Two down, one to go.

L’s team won their CYO A League City basketball semifinal 35–20 Monday night. It wasn’t as easy as the final score makes it look, though.

When she woke up Monday her left knee was still swollen and sore from whatever happened to it Saturday. She had already taped it up and was hobbling around when I came down for breakfast, saying it still hurt and was difficult to move.

After school she seemed to be walking better. When she got in the car we had this conversation:
“How does your knee feel?”
“It’s not good.”
“Think you can try to play tonight?”
“I’m not going to not play.”

Gamer, warrior, heart of a champion, etc.

There was rejoicing from the coaches when I let them know she was going to give it a go. As I dropped her off at the gym door, her teammates started screaming when they saw her in uniform.

The coaches and I agreed we would let her warm up, see how she felt, and if she was good, they would keep her on the bench as long as possible. This was risky because she’s our only true point guard, and we knew St J likes to press and trap.

She warmed up, gave us a thumbs up, and the coaches told her she would be the first sub. But we jumped out to a nice lead early, the refs weren’t calling many fouls, and our girls were playing well. So she sat.

We were up 11–5 after the first quarter and 17–12 at halftime. St J has just one good player, and you can sag off of the entire team, daring them to shoot. Our girls were getting steals, five in the second quarter alone. And our best player was both dropping in buckets and getting to the line. She had 10 points by halftime.

We scored on the first possession of the third quarter and then hit a lull. With around 3:00 left in was down to 19–16. One of our players had taken an elbow to the cheek on a rebound and seemed completely lost. The girls handling the ball suddenly looked super shaky. It was time.

L made her first appearance with 2:48 left in the quarter. We immediately gave up a basket as no one knew who they were guarding, and the lead was just one.[1]

L brought the ball up, came off a screen, and flipped it to the roller who dropped it in.

Next possession, same play, same result.

Next possession, same play, this time she took it to the basket and missed badly. But we got the rebound, she re-set, and hit a cutter for another layup.

Three possessions, three assists, seven-point lead. Deep exhalations by the adults on the bench.

Over the next few minutes she took a couple other shots that looked bad. Both were on drives and she struggled to push off her leg and elevate. So when she lined up a 3 from the corner I thought it had no chance.

Shows what I know.

She swished it to put us up 14, the St P’s crowd went nuts, our coach called time and subbed her out. Her teammates (carefully) jumped on her as she walked off the court with a huge grin on her face.

She played about five minutes in two shifts, dropped four assists, had a steal, hit that three, and steadied us when things were getting dicey. Not exactly a Willis Reed moment, but close enough for CYO.

After the game she said she felt fine and was mad that she didn’t even break a sweat.

L keyed that run but it was her best friend that carried us. She scored 20 and had over 10 rebounds. She dominated the boards in the fourth quarter as we pulled away. Really, the entire team played well. They are understanding how to guard people so much better than a month ago. They are chasing rebounds and loose balls. They are even setting good screens. And now they’ve won two tournament games with L sitting on the bench for the better part of five quarters. It isn’t always pretty, but they’ve been getting it done.

Now it’s on to the City championship game Thursday. We thought we were going to play St N again, which would have sucked. Not just because St N has the best player in CYO and beat us in September. But because that’s also the group of girls who beat L’s kickball team in the City championship game twice. I think playing St N in another City championship game would have been way too much pressure on our girls. Or maybe just us parents.

However, St N was upset by St O, who beat us by four last month. The only reason St O won that game was because we couldn’t rebound and got lost on defense. Exactly the things we have gotten so much better at.

So I’m saying we have a chance.

  1. L almost always guards the ball. But the coaches wanted to hide her on the wing. I think that threw everyone off for that possession.  ↩