Athletic Demons off to 6-3 start
Using sheer athleticism, the Washington boys’ basketball team is off to a 6-3 start.
The Demons aren’t tall (their tallest player is 6-foot-3). They don’t shoot the ball particularly well (45.3 percent as a team). But they’ve out-hustled every team they’ve faced this year.
The Demons run the floor like gazelles, and their 63.4 points per game ranks 10th in Class 3A. They also rank fourth in 3A in steals with 99. But most surprisingly, they are one of the top rebounding teams in 3A. Their 296 total rebounds lead Class 3A, and their 32.9 rebounds per game rank third. They’re also tied for the lead in offensive rebounds.
Why are the Demons so athletic? Well, many of Washington’s players are three- and four-sport athletes. Jake Redlinger, who averages 13.4 points per game this season, is a five-sport athlete who is quarterback of the football team, a state-qualifying high jumper, an outfielder on the baseball team and helped the Demon golf team to a second-place finish at the state tournament last spring. Brock Kimball, who averages 11.3 points per game this season, was also on that state golf team, and he was an outstanding receiver on the football team this fall. Colin Steele, who leads the team with 15.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, was also one of Redlinger’s main targets on the football field. He’s also one of the Washington baseball team’s best pitchers and a hurdler for the track team. Kyle Roder, who chips in 8.9 points per contest, is a fullback, a sprinter and also played baseball on the Demons’ state-qualifying team last summer. The list goes on.
Those athletes have spent countless hours working with Deron Hakert and Randy Schrader in the school’s weight room, and it shows in their conditioning. In the Demons’ season-opening win over Mid-Prairie, Redlinger saved the ball from going out of bounds, but it went to one of the Golden Hawks, and Mid-Prairie started a fast break. The Golden Hawks missed a layup at the other end, and Redlinger was there for the rebound. After the series of plays, Redlinger wasn’t even breathing hard.
Washington struggled with inconsistency last season, finishing with a record of 8-14. But with almost everybody back and a year of experience under their belts, the Demons are currently 6-3. They handed then-No. 2 IMS its first loss of the season, and Washington’s three losses have come by a total of 10 points. The Demons lost to Pella Christian by three points, and just a few nights later the Eagles knocked off then-No. 1 PCM. The Demons lost to Class 4A Muscatine on a buzzer-beater, and lost to West Branch, which is currently 7-1, by five points on the road. If just a few things had gone differently, the Demons could be 9-0.
Washington will face another tough test tonight, when it travels to fourth-ranked Mt. Pleasant, which is currently 8-1. The Demons will try to out-run, out-hustle and out-play the rival Panthers in a key Southeast Conference game.