Boy did we have a Sunday. Nine-plus hours of kid sports!

Things started with L and I leaving the house just before noon for week three of basketball, once again playing about an hour from home.

Game one was a barn-burner. We have exactly two plays on offense, variations on the same theme where the point guard either comes off a screen at the free throw line for a (hopefully) good look at the bucket, or passes off to a trailing teammate for a shot. We spend about 15 minutes of every practice running these plays. So when the other team ran this exact play on their first possession of the game, you’d think we would be able to defend it, right? Nope, easy layup, and we three coaches were all looking at each other like, “It’s going to be a long day if we can’t guard our own plays.”

Luckily our girls were on it. We were getting all the rebounds, played really solid D, and mostly controlled the game the rest of the way. Of course, in third grade basketball “controlling the game” means you have a four-point lead because you shoot roughly 10% despite all those rebounds. Man, our girls were good on the boards, we just could not buy a shot. I think we got the lead up to six in the fourth quarter, but when both teams could press after the 3:00 mark, everything kind of fell apart.

Seriously, those three minutes are the longest minutes in sports. It seems like there’s a turnover, foul, or timeout every 4.9 seconds. It’s just brutal. We were up four and kept forcing turnovers, but since all ten girls were grouped together, that TO would turn into an immediate held ball. Line up and do it again. I think we literally had eight changes of possession on the other end of the court in a 30 second span.

Their coach finally called a timeout and had his best player loop around some screens and run up court. Of course we were totally unprepared for it (coaching!) and she hit a nice, guarded 12-foot jumper to cut it to two with a minute left. Literally a lifetime in this game.

We missed a couple shots, they won a held-ball, and we called timeout. Instead of pressing, we decided to pull four of our players back to the midcourt stripe. Our girls all looked crazy confused but we told them just to pick up there like normal. Meanwhile, we would going to have L pressure the ball.

Fucking genius.

L got a steal, missed a shot, we got the rebound, she ended up with it, and then hit a crazy baseline shot in traffic to push it back to a four-point lead. We were on the opposite end of the court so I was screened and just saw the ball go in, but a coach waiting for the next game looked at me after her shot and said, “Damn! How’d she make that?”

We held on and got our second win of the year.

A good start.

We had an hour between games so went and watched the game on our next court. One of the teams was Ben Davis, which is the west-side Indy school that went undefeated in 6A football this year, won boys 4A basketball last year, and has a long history of turning out great athletes. The school is racially mixed, primarily working class. Their team had two tiny girls who were little speed demons. They could both really handle the ball and would get rebounds and just beat everyone downcourt. Then they had a couple big girls who were kind of thick. They were both at least two inches taller than our biggest player and out-weighed her by over 15 pounds. And then they had a girl that, I swear, was taller than M and weighed 140 pounds. I’m guessing she was 5’5” already. This girl was big and skilled. They’d throw her the ball, she’d take a dribble, spin, and lay it in off the glass.

“Good Lord!” I thought, “That is a kick ass fifth grader!”

BD was playing another team sponsored by the high school we’re playing for, so I asked our head coach what grade those girls were.

“Third grade!”

Holy crap. This Ben Davis girl would probably have been able to play with our 7th and 8th grade CYO teams and she was just a third grader! And she was playing in a B league! [1]

On to our second game, which went about as well as we could have asked for. We were up 15–0 before they hit a free throw and cruised to a 29–6 win. Our girls literally had 15 break away, unguarded layup attempts and maybe hit three of them, so it could have been even worse. The girls weren’t running any offense and kept getting lost on defense, which was driving the head coach nuts. I leaned over and said, “We’re up 15. Just let it go until halftime and we’ll get them refocused.”

A rare moment of clarity from me during a youth sporting event!

L scored seven in the first game, eight in the second, and was the leading scorer in both. She, and the team, had a really good day.

Back in the car and across town to M’s preseason volleyball scrimmages. Her team was playing a bunch of other Cadet (7th & 8th grade) C teams in 13-minute sessions where you could substitute freely, no score was kept, etc. I missed her first game, but apparently she served 13-straight points in it. I think we got to see her play twice before they wrapped up that session. She was also asked to play with one of the B teams, as they were missing three girls. So we ran out to get a quick bite then had her back in the gym for the evening session.

M played really well in both sessions. She’s a setter and does a pretty good job. She’s also become a pretty good passer. She was really disappointed that she didn’t make the B team, but seeing the girls on that team I understand why. They all serve overhanded, most of them can hit at the net, and while her setting is good, it probably needs to be just a touch better if she wanted to play up.

She was excited to get the chance to play so much, though. The B coach never subbed her out, which we didn’t really understand but also didn’t complain about. Last night her team scrimmaged against that B team and she was a little frustrated afterward at how the B team was better than hers. That’s good; she needs a little athletic fire in her. Hopefully that will push her to keep improving. She’s come a long way in two years and I like that she’s not satisfied with just playing with her friends anymore.

We rolled into the house around 9:30 Sunday, so L and I had a hell of a day. Good thing Monday was a holiday and the girls could sleep in.

Thankfully despite the windchill being –20 this morning, school was back in session and on time today. A four-day weekend immediately after Christmas break was not cool for any of us.

  1. We’re in the C league. We’ve heard there weren’t enough A teams this year so all the A and B teams got thrown together, so her team likely would have been in the A league otherwise.  ↩