WASHINGTON — It’s the little things that make a big difference. Especially in postseason play, things that don’t necessarily register as a statistic are often the difference between winning and losing.
Trashaun Willis drew a charge, dove after loose balls, created turnovers, snagged critical rebounds and slammed a dunk that Oskaloosa head coach Brandon Lenhart called the turning point in Washington’s 49-37 boys basketball win Monday in the first round of the Class 3A postseason.
“I didn’t score in the first half and decided I was going to get some garbage plays and just get hustle points,” Willis said. His hustle points were essential but he also scored four regular points, grabbed seven rebounds, passed out two assists and had four steals.
Hustle points were also earned by other Demons. Ethan Patterson’s defense was pivotal. Especially in the fourth quarter when twice he caused a traveling call. He was 5-of-6 on free throws in the final 49 seconds and finished with 17 points.
“We always talk about guys making plays,” Demons head coach Collin Stark said. “There were small detail things that helped us. It’s about how many possessions can we steal.”
Lance Sobaski contributed a key basket for a 38-33 Demon lead the next possession after an air ball. Kasen Bailey, who scored a game-high 20, had 12 of Washington’s points at halftime when it was a 23-23 tie game. Travis Leyden hit a sweet fadeaway jumper right before the half ended. Lucas Kroll’s offensive rebound on a missed free throw with a minute remaining was indicative of the little things that win a game.
“I think this game had everything to do with their second-chance opportunities,” Lenhart said. The ball stayed at the Demon end of the floor for enough minutes in the fourth quarter “because our defensive rebounding killed us.”
In the first three quarters, Oskaloosa did not play like a team that had just two wins in 20 games this season and gave the Demons all they could handle. Junior Keaton Flaherty and Bailey waged a personal scoring battle. Flaherty had 18 of the Indians 35 points with 5:14 remaining in the game. Two free throws at the 2-minute mark was all the more Oskaloosa could muster. Bailey had 16 of the Demons 31 with 3:01 in the third quarter.
Willis had a steal a minute later, dove out of bounds to save a possession 20 seconds after that and drew a charge with under a minute to go in the third which ended 32-29 after Carson Genskow went coast to coast in 6 seconds to score at the buzzer for Osky.
Bailey was playing in his fourth game after returning from injury. “I’ll still have to ice it but there wasn’t any hesitation in my game.”
Washington had called timeout ahead 38-35 with 4:14 remaining in the game and missed a three on a set play out of the timeout.
“Then that next possession No. 24 (Willis) gets a steal and converts at the other end,” Lenhart said. “That was a turning point where it was hard for us to battle back.”
“Dunks always feel good,” Willis said. “We got put in our place in the first half so we knew we had to D it up and we came through in the fourth quarter.”
Washington is 14-6 and plays Grinnell (9-13) Thursday in Washington. Grinnell defeated Clear Creek-Amana 69-58. The winner plays the winner of Pella (20-2) and Newton (9-12) Monday March 1.