The girls are about done and the boys start playoffs next week. More notes from the gyms of Indiana.
Last week I saw the most impressive individual performance in four years of working for my paper. A kid knocked down 9 of 12 three-pointers and scored 34 on the night. It was damn near effortless. This kid is just a junior and is getting some looks from D1 schools. I can see him going to a mid-major level school. He’s not super big or fast, but has a great stroke and understanding of the game.
Of course, he lit up the team I was covering, which made for another fun post-game interview with the coach. “So…..what could you have done to slow him down?”
I did not cover the game, but earlier this season I saw another D1 recruit in a tournament. This kid is going to Butler next year and, at least that night, was ridiculous. I was sitting in press row writing my story about the opening game and the first two minutes of the nightcap sounded like this:
Kid knocked down five threes on his team’s first six possessions. He looks like the stereotypical Butler player: 6’6”-ish, skinny, solid athlete, and can obviously shoot it.
Long time readers will recall that EHS is the home of our saddest girls team. My first game for the paper four years ago was covering them on a night they got hammered by a bad team, their coach was screaming at them the entire game, and most of the girls were in tears after the game. They improved last year, winning one game in sectionals, but then lost the best player in the history of the program. Not much was expected of them this year. I covered them in their first game of the year, and while they got smoked, the girls weren’t playing afraid anymore. I didn’t see them again all season. A week ago they won the first sectional championship in school history. That’s as much an indictment of how bad their sectional was as praise for their improvement. They lost in their first regional game, but they’ve come a long way since that awful night four years ago.
Speaking of sectionals, I only covered one game during girls sectionals. I knew early in the week that I would be covering the 4A sectional final three of our teams were slotted into. I expected to see the host team, FHS, and the #5 team in the state, WHS. With expectations like that, it makes sense that both got upset in the semi-finals.
Instead I was treated to the biggest school we cover, CGHS, facing a team that had won four games all year before sectionals. On paper, it looked like a complete mismatch. Again, my expectations were way off. CGHS controlled the first half, but they are not a gifted offensive team and never led by more than five. SHS carved into the lead early in the third quarter and, for the most part, completely controlled the second half. They had a five-point lead with less than two minutes to play. CGHS hit a couple free throws. Then, with under 20 seconds left, CGHS missed a three, got an offensive rebound, and a freshman hit a fall-away, guarded three to tie it. SHS couldn’t get a shot off and we went to overtime.
CGHS dominated the OT and won. They’ve got a lot of nice players, and their coach is young and good to talk to. It certainly made it easier to right my story with them winning. I was kind of hoping SHS won, though, so I had an excuse to talk to their coach. She was, how do you put it, attractive. Shockingly so. I covered her team earlier this year and honestly spent a lot of time just looking at her.
Now would be a good time to mention that I am happily married, for nearly eight years now!
We ended up sending two teams to regionals, although neither made it to semi-state. I was hoping to cover one of the regionals, but got sent to a boys swimming sectional instead.
Finally, Tuesday night I covered a boys game that featured two county schools. Also sitting at my table was a man keeping stats for one of the teams. We started talking and he mentioned his daughter played for the school last year. I had seen the county’s all-time leading scorer’s picture on his screensaver and asked if that was his daughter. Sure enough, it was. So we spent a lot of time talking about her (she’s at a D2 school in Kentucky) and about his career (he had been the girls coach at the school until her freshman year, when he quit not wanting to be her coach in high school). I wrote about her quite a bit the last two years. She’s small, only 5’4”, but was a terrific scorer. I asked him how she developed and he said he coached her when she was little but most of it was her raw talent and love for the game. I was hoping he had some secrets for getting short girls to average nearly 30 points a game. I did not tell him that I loved that her favorite player was Allen Iverson, the player I thought her game most resembled when I first saw her. It still makes me laugh that I compared a small, tattoo-less white girl from a rural Indiana school to The Answer and he ended up being her favorite.
Baring a weather-related cancellation I will cover a boys game Friday night (a team I’ve seen lose five times this year) and 2-3 games in sectionals next week. Then the season is over. I’ll be ready for football to start about a week later.