It took all of 19 seconds for Josh Oglesby to change the complexion of Monday’s Class 4A first-round boys basketball playoff game.
Cedar Rapids Washington’s 6-foot, 6-inch senior guard, who is committed to play basketball at University of Iowa next season, hit a 3-pointer with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter to put the Warriors ahead of Clinton 14-8.
Two River Kings turnovers and two more 3-pointers by Oglesby, put Washington ahead 20-8 with 2:17 to go. Those nine points turned into a 16-0 run, and Clinton never challenged again in a 70-31 loss.
“It gave us the momentum, especially to get out of the slump we were playing in the first couple minutes,” Oglesby said. “We were rusty. We hadn’t played for a while. Coach (Brad Metzger) let us take Saturday and Sunday off. It got us going.”
On Washington’s next possession, Wes Washpun converted a three-point play. Then, Oglesby hit his fourth 3-pointer of the quarter.
“It does take the life out of you,” Clinton coach Nick Lawrence said of Oglesby’s one-man run. “That’s what good players do. He came out and got his team going. He made the plays he needed to to get his team out of a little funk. It was just kind of a dagger.”
Oglesby shot 8-of-10 from behind the arc and scored a game-high 27 points. He made his first six 3-point attempts.
“My teammates found me when I was open,” Oglesby said. “Luckily, I knocked down some shots. We executed our offense pretty well. We just came out and played well.”
Washpun scored the first two baskets for the Warriors, but Clinton countered each time. Blake Pennock scored first for the River Kings and then Devan Douglas tied the score at 4-4. Washington’s David Tann hit a 3-pointer, but Clinton came right back again. Pennock scored off a spin move from the low post to make the score 7-6.
After two Washington layups, Clinton’s Pat Hess inbounded the ball under the River Kings’ basket. He threw a lob pass to Douglas. Douglas leaped into the air, caught the ball and converted, which made the score 11-8 five minutes into the game.
“We just knew we had to come out and play hard,” Douglas said. “We didn’t know this was going to be our last game. We came out and played hard to try to make it not our last game.”
The River Kings have consistently played with teams at the beginning of games this season, so it wasn’t a surprise. Washpun said the Warriors were affected by their nerves, as well as Clinton, early.
“I think it was first-playoff-game jitters,” Washpun said. “We came out a little shaky and didn’t really know what to expect. Once we got in the flow, it seemed to go pretty well for us.”
Washpun and Douglas played against each other for much of the game at both ends of the court.
“You’re talking about two of the better athletes you’re going to see across the state,” Lawrence said. “Washpun is a phenomenal athlete and Devan obviously has a lot of athleticism. Next year, both of those guys are going to be playing at schools. Devan is looking to continue his career. Washpun is going to have options, probably at the Division I level. As a basketball fan, it’s fun to watch Washpun, Oglesby, Devan, guys like that go to work and display their game.”
Washpun scored 21 points, 19 in the first half, while Douglas led Clinton with 15 points.
“He’s a really good player,” Washpun said of Douglas. “He’s fast and strong. He’s also respectful. He didn’t talk trash or anything like that. I like that about him. He played really hard and really represented his team well.”
The two players, both listed at 6-feet, 1-inch tall, each showcased their dunking ability in the game.
Washpun threw down a one-handed jam near the end of the first half to put Washington ahead 50-14. Then a little more than midway through the third quarter, Douglas got a steal and slammed it down with two hands on the fastbreak.
“I just wanted to do something a little different. That’s all it was,” Douglas said.
Oglesby and Washpun combined to score five points in the second half but provided their teammates with plenty of opportunities. Washington’s Sean Bredl scored six of his 10 points in the second half. Six Warriors reached the scoring column in the second half, and 11 players attempted shots.
“Most teams key in on me and Josh as the top two scorers for our team,” Washpun said. “It’s always important to get the other guy’s confidence going and get them really involved in the game. We want to make it more of a team effort. I think that’s how we’ll go far in this tournament, if we get the other guys involved.”
The River Kings played eight players who will return next season, including freshman Jalen Jones.
Jones made his presence felt immediately. He caught a Warrior from behind and blocked his shot seconds after entering the game. Jones and sophomore Jacob Judd were called up to the varsity team late in the season.
“We wanted to get those guys acclimated to the varsity level,” Lawrence said. “We wanted them to experience a big-game atmosphere, their first substate game against a quality opponent, play against a couple guys who are going to be playing in college at a high level. Going into next season, we wanted to take the shock factor away and have them ready to roll against varsity competition.”
Clinton finished its season without a win. According to records in the Herald archive, it’s only the second winless season in Clinton history. The other was 1907-08.
By all accounts it was a tough year to be a River King, but the team improved and stuck together.
“It was pretty hard, but we were getting better and better every time we played with each other,” Douglas said.
Lawrence said he was very pleased with the team’s attitude and work ethic during the season.
“I’m extremely proud of how these guys stuck together throughout the course of the season,” he said. “There’s nothing tougher than showing up to work everyday when things aren’t going well and when you’re struggling. For us to finish the season without a win is tough. We don’t have anything in terms of victories to show for our hard work and effort. But, I think it speaks volumes about these kids. Every kid who started the season is still here. They never quit on each other. They never quit on me.”