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Friday, August 18, 2017
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor
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Metro Sports Report

Halls of Fame honor the past

Last Friday night I had the great honor to emcee the annual Washington High School Athletic Hall of Fame ceremonies between games of the Warriors home doubleheader with Kennedy. Former Athletic Director Duane Kramer started the Hall of Fame back in 1988 and it has been in great hands since with Denny Goettel and now Paul James keeping the tradition going.

My point today is not to brag on the Warrior Hall of Fame, even though it is a great one, but to thank all the schools that have places to honor great athletes and contributors to their success over the years.

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Late FT dooms No. 3 Kennedy boys

IOWA CITY –  “Gone in 65 seconds.”

If Tuesday night’s game between Kennedy and Iowa City West were to get a Hollywood movie treatment that would be the working title.

The host Trojans, ranked ninth in Class 4A, used a pair of defensive stops and a trip to the free throw line in the closing minute-plus to upset No. 3 Kennedy, 45-44.

Josiah Coleman knotted the score at 44 when the Kennedy junior pulled up and knocked down a jumper with 1 minute 33 seconds left to play. After Iowa City West’s Leo Franz missed a triple the Cougars called time out with a minute five remaining to set up their first attempt at a possible game-winning play. The resulting set never came to fruition however as West ratcheted up its defensive pressure and Jeremy Morgan coaxed a 5 second call after bird-dogging Kennedy guard Jacob Misener.

“I’d like to see a tape of that,” Kennedy Coach Bob Fontana said.

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Ranked teams get byes, Warriors do not

Washington will have to make the Class 4A boys state basketball tournament the hard way this year.

No.1 Linn-Mar, No.3 Kennedy and No.9 Jefferson have drawn high seeds and first-round byes for the substate tournaments that begin Feb. 21, but Washington drew a No.3 seed and will have to win three games to reach the state tournament instead of just two.

Linn-Mar and Kennedy are No.1 seeds and drew first-round byes. The Lions and Cougars could be part of an attractive doubleheader at the U.S. Cellular Center on March 1 in the substate finals, playing back-to-back games for berths at state without having to face each other on the road to Des Moines.

Jefferson is a No.2 seed and also drew a bye, but the J-Hawks could have to play No.1 seed Cedar Falls at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls for a trip to state. Cedar Falls beat the J-Hawks, 60-54, in a conference game at Jefferson Monday night.

The Class 3A and 4A postseason pairings were announced Tuesday by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

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Another tough loss for Wash boys

Frustration, thy name is Washington.

The heartache continued for the Washington Warriors Tuesday night when they dropped their sixth game of the season to a Top 10 opponent in another nip-and-tuck affair.

The seventh-ranked Cedar Falls Tigers denied the Warriors, 50-48, on a basket by Bobby Brummel with two seconds left in a Mississippi Valley Conference game at Washington.

The Warriors, once ranked themselves, have lost six times to ranked opponents this season with setbacks by 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 points (and one by 25).

Washington Coach Brad Metzger beat a hasty retreat after the game and was unavailable for comment. Wes Washpun, who fouled out, and Josh Oglesby, who shot 6 for 19, also were unavailable.

That left the talking to reserve center McCauley Todd, the only Warrior who lingered in the gym after another frustrating loss.

"Yeah, it's tough," said Todd. "I think we're really, really close. These tough losses, I think, will help us in the long run and in the tournament when we get there."

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Nothing ho hum about Warriors' streak

Years ago, I learned a valuable journalistic lesson from a man who had a hand in winning the Pulitzer Prize.

I was a young reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette in the mid-1970s, assigned one Saturday to cover the boys’ district swimming meet. Washington had won several team championships in a row and, to no one’s surprise, captured another that day.

My lede on the story went something like this: “Ho hum. Another year, another district title for Washington.’’

The following Monday morning, I had barely taken off my coat in the newsroom when I heard a gruff voice, “Dukes, my office!’’ It was Jack Illian, then The Gazette’s managing editor.

In the 1930s, Illian was one of the reporters who developed a series of stories on corruption and misgovernment in the State of Iowa, a body of work that earned The Gazette the Pulitzer Prize in 1936.

Illian was in the final years of his newspaper career in the 1970s, but still had a keen eye for good reporting and writing. He was a little like Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post editor who everyone got to know in “All The President’s Men.’’

Tough, stern and particular, but fair. I knew when he called me into his office that it was either going to be really good or really bad.

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