L’s first true travel basketball tournament of her life is in the books. She had fun, but it was a mixed weekend results-wise.

Hoops first. Her team went 2–2 for the weekend. Friday night they got absolutely annihilated by a team from Canada. Whatever your mental image of how Canadian seventh grade girls should look and play, these girls were the opposite. Big, fast, strong, good hoops IQs, and the most athletic team we’ve played this year. They were also hand-checky as hell, which they didn’t need to do since they were already way better than us. We lost 55–11. They were still pressing in the final 30 seconds up 40. So much for Canada Nice I guess.

Saturday morning we got a sloppy win over a team from Bloomington. On the court next to us, a team from St. Louis beat the Canadians by four, but had been up by 15 most of the game before a late Canuck run. That score shocked us parents and bummed out our girls. They figured they had no chance beating a team that beat a team that beat them.

In the afternoon game, we led the St. Louis girls by one point as the clock ran out to end the first half…then the refs inexplicably counted a basket that came at least two seconds after the buzzer. Seriously, the girl with the ball was at mid-court with 1.5 seconds left and they somehow thought she took 5–6 dribbles and laid it off the glass in that span. Our girls played great that first half and had nothing left. We were on the wrong end of a 26–3 run top open the second half. But losing by 18 didn’t seem so bad given their expectations.

Of the 12 teams in our division, we finished ninth. And our reward was to stick around until 4:40 Sunday to play the 12th place team, also from Bloomington. We got worried when we arrived early to watch another of our seventh grade teams play and their opponent never showed up. I threatened to burn the building down if we stuck around until late afternoon only to win by forfeit. Fortunately our opponents were there and we even got to start about 40 minutes early. Another sloppy but comfortable win, this time by 10.

L’s performance? Not great. Her knees were barking all weekend and at times she could barely run. It was tough to watch and super frustrating for her. She scored three total points in the four games and had more turnovers per game than she’s had all year. Bad passes, getting beat physically, unable to stop because of her knees and getting called for traveling, etc. The confidence she had developed in April is completely gone. She looks unsure of herself and constantly off-balance. I know she was extra disappointed she contributed very little because she was so looking forward to this tournament. Her team has the next two weekends off and her coach told her to skip practice this week to give the knees some rest. I just keep reminding her this means she’s still growing, but I think she’s getting sick of hearing that.

The tournament was at the Kentucky Expo Center, located right between the airport, the University of Louisville athletic complex, and Churchill Downs. There were 30 or so courts and Saturday especially was kind of a madhouse. Games started at 8:00 AM and went until past 10:00 each night. Some of the courts were hand-me-downs from college arenas. L’s team played the Friday game on an old Louisville Freedom Hall court, complete with baskets that had UL Cardinals decorations on them. I didn’t walk around much but apparently there was a Clemson and Georgia Tech court, too. Most of the courts were just temporary plastic ones, though. I don’t think those helped L’s knees at all.

While the tournament was all age groups, it was dominated by Class of 2023 teams, and lots of college coaches were floating around to watch them and the sophomores. Some of these juniors are insanely big and talented. I watched one game Sunday that had at least five girls on the court who were taller than six feet. The event was NCAA sanctioned so we had to register our girls with the NCAA to compete, which L thought was kind of cool but was a hassle for us parents. You had to sit through about 20 minutes of interactive videos regarding recruiting, mental health, concussions, etc. We also had to bring multiple pieces of documentation to show our girls were playing in the right age group. Which they didn’t even look at when we checked in. Wonder if they gave the high schoolers’ docs more scrutiny.

While the basketball was frustrating, L had a great time hanging out with her teammates. We had a couple team meals, they ran around our hotel and the area we were in, and found other ways to entertain themselves.

It was fun for us parents, too. We had a big group lunch between games Saturday and basically took over a restaurant because of our group size. That night we ordered pizza and took over the hotel breakfast area. I sat with the two coaches and another dad, dranking beer and laughing for three hours. It was a good evening.

We couldn’t get a later checkout than noon on Sunday, so L and I found an outlet mall about half an hour away and hit the Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas stores, looking for some new shorts for her. She came up empty but was thrilled that there was a Crocs store. She wears Crocs all the time, including to-and-from basketball. She got a new pair along with some Gibbets.

Travel was relatively easy, although we had some very good luck. On our way down Friday I narrowly missed a hunk of metal on I–465. As we passed it, there were at least eight cars pulled over with flats after running over it. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have found anyone to install new tires on my Audi on a Friday afternoon and would have been screwed.

On our way home Sunday we saw a tractor trailer that was flipped in the middle of I–65 about an hour south of Indy. Judging from the debris we saw around the wreck, I wondered if it had blown over in heavy storms that passed through that area Saturday afternoon.