CLARENCE — When Logan Wilhelm picked up his fourth foul with 2 minutes, 8 seconds left in the third quarter, the spirits of the Springville fans rose. They thought their team had Easton Valley in trouble.
The Orioles, ranked eighth in the Iowa Class 1A state poll, had just taken a 34-32 lead on a Greg Pauly basket on the previous possession. When Wilhelm, Easton Valley's 6-foot-8 senior center, committed his fourth offensive foul just 14 seconds later, the Orioles' fans celebrated, sensing the opportunity to avenge an earlier loss to the 10th-ranked River Hawks.
Surely, the big man was headed to the bench.
But, Wilhelm stayed on the court, determined he could play another 10 minutes without committing a fifth foul.
"I had to be in there because Elias is a good player and all," Wilhelm said, referring to Springville's 6-6 standout Elias Nissen, who led the Orioles with 18 points.
"He and I have argued about this before," Easton Valley coach Dan Beck said, explaining the decision to keep Wilhelm in the game. "When he gets in foul trouble, he says, 'Just leave me in; I won't foul. Just leave me in; I won't foul.'
"At that point, I thought if we pull him out, the game could be over. So I just looked at him and said, 'What do you think?' He looked at me and said, 'I'm good,' so I had to trust him there, too."
It turned out to be a fateful move.
Wilhelm delivered one 3-pointer and Chase Zaruba followed with two more as Easton Valley closed the third quarter with a game-changing run and went on to beat Springville 60-49 on Thursday to win the Iowa Class 1A District 7 boys basketball championship at the North Cedar gym.
"I felt like we just took control and we had it from that point," Wilhelm said.