Travel basketball came to a disappointing end for L over the weekend.

Her team lost in the semifinals to a squad they had beaten twice this year. That team went on to win the championship by four points. So it was right there for our girls and they blew it.

Saturday’s pool games were two very different contests. In the first we played a team we beat by 10 two weeks ago. They are super big, very physical, but not very good.[1] They make the game ugly, and our girls don’t like ugly.

We were in control the entire game Saturday but just couldn’t put them away. We held on to win by seven. L was cold, just scoring two while tossing up a bunch of airballs from 3.

Two things to note. It was approximately 800 degrees in the gym. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but the AC was not running and it was very hot and steamy. We were down two girls – to be fair the other team only had one sub – and several of our girls looked like they were going to puke after the game from the heat.

Also, we were missing our most physical player. She’s not a mean girl, but she’s one of those kids who gets a nasty look on her face and battles constantly once the game starts. We missed her in this game.

In game two we crushed a poor team that only had five players. They forfeited their first game because they didn’t have even those five to the gym in time. L bounced back and had seven in this game, including a steal and layup, a long two (that was really a 3), and a 3 (that was really a 2). Refs were having trouble with the 3-point line. Might have had too much sweat in their eyes to see it.

Sunday it was on to play the team we beat twice in Bloomington two months ago. We crushed them in that first game, then they had a lead on us for most of the second game until we pulled it out late. That big win was deceptive, though, as our best player went on a personal 12–0 run that turned a comfortable lead into a blowout.

I think that game killed us Sunday.

We led 13–9 a little over halfway through the first half. Then we gave up an 11–0 run going into halftime. That run stretched out deep into the second half and eventually we were down 30–18 with about three minutes to play.

Then we suddenly started hitting 3’s and getting steals. We got it down to two with 20 seconds left and our best free throw shooter at the line for two. She missed both, but thanks to a lane violation got to shoot her second again and made it. Down one.

We stole the inbounds pass, had a shot inside that got blocked, and then were inbounding under the basket with 15 seconds left. Instead of hitting our best shooter, who was wide open in the corner, we threw it inside where the ball bounced around and eventually ended up in the defense’s hands. They missed a free throw and we couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer.

Just a bummer of a loss. Our girls were slow to rebounds and loose balls. The other team, to their credit, found some zone defenses that we could not solve. I think having our missing starter would have helped, but I can’t guarantee we would have won had she played. We are probably the better team, but they were the better one for those 32 minutes. And then they went and beat one of our program’s other 2027 teams for the championship. Our girls really wanted to play their sister team for the last trophy of the summer.

L scored five in the semifinal. She blew by her girl for a layup to start the game and she hit a 3 during our run late. She started all three games but she was not on the court late in the game Sunday. She sat the final few minutes when our coach played our two “bigs” together, which he usually will not do, because it seemed to turn things on the defensive end.[2]

Thus ends L’s first year of travel basketball. I think it was a personal success. She is definitely a better player than she was when she started with this program last fall. A year ago the only way she could score was to get to the basket. After lots of work she’s finally developed consistency and confidence in her jump shot and become more comfortable playing off-the-ball. She’s played against higher level girls and held her own. She made some new friends. It also helps that she’s still growing. It was a pretty solid season.

Today she is off to the Cathedral camp. She doesn’t love camps, but we agreed it was time to go to the one run by the coaches she’ll be trying out for in two years so they get to know her. After that we have six weeks to really crank it up on our personal workouts. We both have a list of goals and are working on a plan on how to get her better for when CYO ball starts in September.

  1. I say this as a compliment, not to be mean, but they all looked like big, farm girls. They’ve been wrangling small animals their entire lives. Skinny, suburban girls don’t phase them.  ↩

  2. I say “bigs” because our entire team falls within about a 2.5” height range. These are just the two girls who are most comfortable playing inside.  ↩