Friday, March 23, 2012

Basketball Diaries - 4

Part IV: It was an honor just to be nominated.

You can go hard or you can go home - that's the phrase many use to describe post season play. It's when the best team shows up and proves they're #1.

Our post season tournament began. As I stated before, we earned the top seed so we were able to get a first round bye. The team we played had a really good point guard and another player who we were all pretty sure turned 15 not too long ago (it's an under 14 league). Anyway, that week we practiced a certain "scheme" to run against them because their team was literally just those 2 kids. The rest of the team was... well terrible. They liked to play a lot of pressure defense and use the athleticism of their best 2 players to trap and cause turnovers. Unfortunately, our practice didn't go as well as I wanted, so all week I was fairly nervous about how we were going to play.

Game day finally came and it was time to play. Crazy thing happened though - only half of the other team showed up with 1 of their best players (their point guard) NOT there. It was certainly a small sigh of relief. The game started and we jumped out to a nice lead but then... their point guard showed up.


He enters the game, time goes by and eventually they're back in it. With under a minute left, they're point guard fouls out and we're down 1. We make it down court and get fouled. Our player had the chance to sink 2 free throws and give us a 1 point lead. I'm just praying he makes 1 so we can hopefully go into overtime. Well, the basketball gods decided to smile down on us because he actually hit BOTH free throws and we won by 1 point!

On to the championship game.

Our championship game was played a couple hours later that day. It was a great matchup. Both teams were from the Morrison Family YMCA and it was a fairly even matchup. In the second half we built a 12 point lead. This felt great! The other team's players were so frustrated. All we had to do was hold on for 5 minutes.

Of course that didn't happen.

One of the players on the other team started to heat up. No... he was on fire. He suddenly hit 4 three pointers in a row and just like that, we were tied. Now the crowd is pumped up. Both benches are cheering with each basket made. Suddenly there's 30 seconds left, we're tied and on defense. The other team is trying to hold the ball for last shot which is OK with me because we were prepared for overtime again. The clock ticks down to about 3 seconds and then... for some reason... we foul them.

At this point, I'm screaming, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO," in my head but remaining somewhat calm on the outside. So their player goes to the free throw line. He makes the first and now we're down 1. The second free throw goes up and he misses! We get the rebound and call timeout. This all of a sudden turned into a huge pressure moment for a coach. I actually drew up a play for a deep (basically half court) shot. Play works to perfection, the shot goes up... the buzzer goes off and... the ball cruelly bounces off the front of the rim.

The basketball gods were only with us for one game. We won the semi final by 1 and lost the final by 1. Talk about a heartbreaking defeat. This was the first time all season I was really kind of speechless. I somehow mustered up some encouraging words letting my team know that it just wasn't our day but I was proud of the way they played and progressed all season. Coaching turned out to be a really fun time and I'm so glad I was asked to do it. I had a pizza party for my team after the season just to congratulate them all once again. We played a "parents vs. kids" basketball game, then handed out awards and threw down some pizza. It was a great way to officially wrap up the season.

Below is our team picture. We're missing 1 player in it, but yeah, that's my team who had low expectations, fought all season and made it to the championship game. Very, very proud of these kids!

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