By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis Washburn girls’ basketball team played in the state tournament for the first time in almost 30 years.

The key to their success is a father-daughter duo. Tyler coaches, and his daughter, Chase, stars.

Both are playing for a person who helped make their dream come true – but couldn’t be there to see it.

The Coley family lived the dream — two parents and two young daughters. But 2 1/2 years ago, Kendall came home and found her mother dead from an unexpected heart attack.

“It was unbelievable – totally unbelievable day,” Tyler said.

Now? He’s leading Washburn High School girls basketball to the state tournament as its coach. And his star player is a Division-I prospect — Chase.

It comes as no surprise that Chase’s mother was a finalist for Miss Basketball in 1982, and went on to play for the Gophers.

“My grandpa and I talk before games a lot — her dad — and he always says, ‘You remind me so much of your mom,'” Chase said. “I just want to follow in her footsteps because she meant so much to me.”

Those who knew both say the mother and daughter play the game in the same way.

“One of the things we had the most fun doing, we would play pepper with the volleyball outside, and do that for an hour at a time,” Chase said. “We’d laugh and have fun.”

With younger sister Kendall now at practices, this a special time for the Coleys. They remember, and they honor their hero who is never far from their thoughts.

“That was a day that the girls remember, and we have our days where we’ve very sad about it,” Tyler said. “But we came to grips that mommy is present at every moment, we just can’t talk to her.”

If there is a regret, it is that Chase was not what she is now on the court — Kelli only got to see a junior high girl who was still finding her coordination.

“In eighth grade when Chase hadn’t hit that growth spurt yet, it was painful to watch because Kelli was always the best,” Tyler said.

And that’s why Chase hopes Kelli sees from somewhere above.

“I feel like my freshman year was when I got a lot better,” Chase said. “I sat on the bench a lot in middle school. I just wish she would have gotten a chance to see me play now.”

Chase did her part on Wednesday night, recording a triple-double: 28 points, 11 blocks and 11 rebounds, leading the Millers to a 64-58 win over Sauk Centre.

Washburn plays again Friday night.


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