Pella Christian drops WashingtonDemons lose nailbiting season-opener, after squandering lead in fourth quarter
Playing Pella Christian is rarely an easy task, let alone in the season opener.
In last year’s meeting Washington got blown out by 35 points in the second game of the season. The Eagles would finish the season 20-5.
This year Washington was competitive.
“It was a tough game,” said senior guard Mason Quigley. “We did a lot better than last year. We were working together, and passing it around. It was team ball.”
In fact, the Demons had three chances on their final two possessions to force overtime or take the lead.
First Mason Quigley — who led the team with 17 points — drove to the basket but missed a contested layup.
“It was a tough shot,” Quigley said. “They knew it was going to come up. They were a lot taller than me.”
Then on the next possession Garrett Covington had his 3-point attempt swatted out of bounds.
Washington’s final chance came from junior guard Thomas Bump who came off two screens to receive the out-of-bounds pass. His 15-footer bounced off the rim.
“We drew the play up to get junior Daryn Sebelius posted up or Bump coming off a double screen,” head coach Bryce Smeins said. “We threw it to Bump and he was wide open. We will take that every time.”
After securing the rebound, Pella’s guard Sebastian Baugh — who had 14 points — knocked two free throws to ice the 61-57 win.
When asked if there is a last-second go-to player on the team Quigley and Smeins said the team doesn’t have one.
“It’s open for anyone who is feeling it,” Quigley said. “Whoever is doing well in that game (gets the shot).”
Washington closed the third quarter in a fury with 5 straight points after a triple from guard Gage Redlinger to tie it at 43.
Forward Blake Weidman sunk a 3-pointer to push the lead to 4 in the fourth quarter during a 15-3 run that carried over from the third. Quigley — who scored 13 first-half points — scored his first basket of the half to make it 49-45.
“Mason had a great game handling the ball and passing the ball,” Smeins said. “When we get scoring out of him, it’s awesome. He had an excellent game. I’m pretty pleased with his effort.”
Pella would score the next 5 points to take its first lead of the quarter at the 4:47 mark. From there the game was a back-and-forth affair in the fourth quarter. There were five lead changes and two ties.
Senior forward Brett Wright sank two free throws to give Washington its final lead of the game at 53-52.
The final lead change was Pella forward Nate Haveman’s and-1 conversion with 3:55 remaining.
The last tie of the game was a Quigley layup with 2:07 to go.
Haveman then answered with the game-winning layup. Haveman finished the game with 15 points.
“We needed one more run at the end,” Smeins said.
Eagles’ forward Coltin Collins had 15 first-half points before finishing with 18.
Bump was second on the team with 9 points, Weidman had 8 points.
Quigley kept Washington in the game in the first half. He scored the last 5 points of the first quarter to put his team ahead 16-15. He then netted 6 of his team’s final 8 points of the half to pull his team within 1 point at 30-29.
This tightly contested game will likely be a reccurring game, according to Smeins.
“We are going to have a (chance to win) if we play well every night,” Smeins said.
Bump had six rebounds and Weidman had four boards. Their team got outrebounded 20-18.
Quigley led his team with four assists. Covington, Weidman and Sebelius had three steals, each.
The team shot 48 percent from the floor on 25-52.
Washington travels to Muscatine for its road opener, Monday at 7:30 p.m.