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Shortridge Basketball: The Exciting Triple Header

A night filled with hope, competition, and a Blue Devil

Who's man is this???

Who's man is this???

James Szalkie, Writer

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I would like to start off by saying, I don’t know much about basketball. Even though I get asked if I play all the time, I don’t. Sure I’ve been to games, and I’ve tried my hand from time to time, but I really wasn’t sure what to expect in a high school basketball game. A few phrases I had hoped to hear include, “It doesn’t say in the rules a dog can’t play basketball,” “Get your head in the game,” and something from Teen Wolf. I didn’t get any of those. But I did get a very exciting evening.

All three games were against the same school, Central Christian Academy.

First game was the JV team, which I showed up to half way through. At half time, the score was 25 BD, 16 guest. One thing I noticed, #42 was everywhere, snatching balls, blocking like mad. One instance that blew me away was when #21 practically charged someone mid shot, smacking the ball clear out of the air. #41 made a very notable shot in an epic fake out. At one point, #10 put in their all to retrieve the ball from the other team off the ground. And finally, a very notable move by #34, when he snagged the ball out of mid air. Final score: 51 BD, 28 guest.

After the game, I was able to interview the announcer, Mr. Gawdzik, and the coach for the Junior Varsity. Following the first game, Mr. Gawdzik noted he thought we had strong defense, were passing well, and communicating, all things critical in a good game. He also noted the team’s “hustle” toward the end of the game. I also asked where he sees future improvements, following the game:

“Their fast breaks could be tighter, they could work with the ball a little better in a way that… they could communicate more. They’re drawing a lot of fouls, so hitting their free throws is a no brainer, so making sure they just hit all the free throws, pretty straight forward.”

Ziv manning the mic, as he announces for the game and fulfills his destiny

Ziv manning the mic, as he announces for the game and fulfills his destiny

Following that, I caught up with the JV coach as well. The entire team is lined along the rail of the upper level of the new gym, talking and reflecting on their victory. I was able to find the coach fairly easily, he was a fairly tall guy.

When asked what went well about the first game, his response was, “I think that the team played team defense, I think they all balled in, I think everybody followed the instructions on what the game plan was. We worked hard, even when we were down, of course when we got down we kept our heads up. I think we just motivated positively today, we played pretty strongly today.”

Next, how were they going to improve after this game: “What we’re going to improve on, we’re going to cut down the errors, making our free throws… a little bit better execution on offensive end.”

Third, what was his favorite play of the game? “When we came out, and I put a 1-3-1 defense in, in the third quarter, and we came out executing it, and to see it execute… and the guys started seeing lightbulbs go off over their head, like ‘this is what we’re supposed to do, I see why coach is saying it’, thats probably my proudest moment in that game.”

Finally, To see if I could dig for an MVP of the evening. “This game, I would have to honestly say, hold on…” (this is where he asks the rest of the team, “hey, question. If I had to name an MVP for this game, who would it be?” followed by few names getting tossed around), “I would give it out to two guys; Rodney Brown, and Avery. Two freshmen that are playing up”.

Next was the girl’s game, and it was intense. One move I remember, #5 and #2, conspiring through the legs of an opposite team member to sink a shot. Another impressive shot was from #5, and an assist from #20. #1 had an elegant 3-pointer, and kudos to #4, for an amazing shot amid pure chaos, all converging on her. One player who could not be stopped was #2, who was light on her toes like no other, pulling off amazing blocks. None could defend against her pure height and agility. A fight nearly broke out between #23 and her foe over the ball across the court floor, and she was not giving up easily.

My favorite move of the whole night came from #2, as she appeared OUT OF NOWHERE to slap the ball out of the air, into the crowd of spectators. Now, to fully appreciate the beauty behind this, it requires some illustration. A member of the guest team rockets into the air, her shot primed and ready. Hope seems lost, the hoop belongs to her now. But out from no where, hope appears, as #2 bounds toward her, with an expression as a lion with its prey. She leaps into the air, much like an eagle taking flight, and swings her hand through the air with lethal precision, as her palm collides with the ball. A look of shock and regret washes over her opponents face. The ball seems to almost explode into another dimension from the pure power put into it. It bounces across the floor, and lands in the bleachers. The crowd loses it, as the game moves on, but I know I will never forget that moment.

Some notable defense I saw came from #23 later in the game, and #2, back at it again, gets 2 blocks consecutively. #27 sinks a 1 in 100 shot with a beauty and grace unrivaled by any other shot in the game, as it glides into the hoop. And to end it all, #25 comes through with a last second lay up. Final score, 48 BD, 14 guest.

A team meeting before the game

Chaos converges on the players, as #2 reaches for the sky in a glorious shot, ripping through the veil of foes as she delivers the ball to it’s rightful place

I caught up with the coach after the game to get another interview, same questions as before. They were filed onto the stairs leading up to the upper level, and were receiving a speech from their coach.

First, again, what went well. “For the most part, everybody got an opportunity to play. We played a little bit better than we did last week, but still gotta stop turning the ball over so much, and execute our stuff.”

Next, what did he intend to improve. “Obviously we gotta keep battling, keep fighting, keep improving. But our biggest thing is that we gotta limit turn overs, that’s our biggest thing right now. We gotta get more shots in the basket, get more free throws and limit turn overs.”

Then, his favorite play. “I really enjoyed when we moved the ball against the zone, a lot of high-low passing, I believe it was a high-low pass from Tatiana to Jayla. She finished and won, got to the free throw line hit one in and got a run started”

Finally, who was MVP of the game? “As a group, we played pretty well as a group. Overall, Jayla led us, they kinda followed her lead. We got a couple girls battling through some injuries, but overall, Jayla Rogers led the way for us.”

Finally was the Varsity game, which I could only stay halfway through for. Immediately it was a tight one. #12 got a 3-pointer right off the bat, very impressive. But the points kept going up on both sides, volleying back and forth. #’s 5 and 3 were giving the other team a run for their money, with their dribbling and footwork. One notable move I saw was #3 almost fell out of bounds, but tosses the ball in mid fall, passing to #45, allowing him to score a point. It all probably occurred in under a second, or at least it sure felt that way. Minutes later, #3 gets a wild snag of the ball, bounds across the court and sinks the shot. My favorite shot of the game came from #5, a swish 3-pointer. The game only grew tighter and tighter from there. I left right before halftime, but can report the final score was 55 BD, 66 guest, our only loss of the evening.

But, one team deserves a whole load of recognition, and that was he cheer squad. through thick and thin, this group is ready to stand by our team with a big smile, and a whole lot of spirit. Kudos, girls.

Supposing you’d like photos that aren’t very blurry, and done by a grade A photography, Mary Jo Easley provided photos from the same night below. More photos are available.

1 Comment

One Response to “Shortridge Basketball: The Exciting Triple Header”

  1. El'ad Nichols-Kaufman on January 23rd, 2018 8:31 am

    They never said “It doesn’t say in the rules a dog can’t play basketball,” or “Get your head in the game,”? Shameful.

    [Reply]

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