‘Tis the Season

27 02 2010

February 26, 2010

Well today was a feast of high school basketball… and a good amount of driving.  I covered four games at the Class A Divisional tournament in Hamilton.  I got to the station at about noon to pick up a camera and head out to catch the second half of the 12:30 semifinal game.  However, when I got to the station I saw that we were completely out of cameras (I problem that’s been occurring more and more).

At first I tried coordinating a camera switch with Kevin, who was already shooting a court story in Hamilton, but as he was running low on batteries, I elected to just wait 15 minutes for Christian to get back with his.  Sure enough I didn’t have to wait long for his return and I snatched his small camera (an annoyance for shooting sports… on the bright side keeping a steady shot with small cameras has been strengthening my left tricep) and headed out.

I got to the gym at halftime of the boys semifinal game between the Dillon Beavers and the Hamilton Broncs.  Unfortunately for the hometown Broncs, they had no chance at victory against the superior Dillon squad.  Hamilton shot a dismal 18% from the field, as it seemed they were trying to score five points every possession they had the ball.  Needless to say they were unsuccessful in their hurried efforts and turned the ball over 21 times in the contest.  Embarrassingly enough, the mercy rule clock (where the clock runs continuously if one team is ahead by 40 or more points) had to be kicked into action during the final minute of play.  In fact, a Broncs player couldn’t even get his second free throw off in time when the buzzer sounded to spell a 64-23 Beavers win.

Following that game, I stayed for the first quarter and change of a semifinal matchup in the girls bracket between the Anaconda Lady Copperheads  and Frenchtown.  Anaconda looked head and shoulders above the Lady Broncs right out of the gate as they jumped out to a 35-9 lead before halftime could pause the massacre.  I had to leave at that point to head back to the station and make my edits for the 6:00, but Anaconda went on to handle Frenchtown by a final of 64-38.

Three and a half hours, two highlight sequences, and 94 miles later:  I walk back into Dale Berry court for more Hamilton-hosted basketball.  This time I get to cover an entire game as I’m in time for tip-off of the semifinal between the Stevensville Yellowjackets and the Corvallis Blue Devils.  This game was one of the highest intensity contests I’ve ever covered as it was clear that the two teams were not fond of each other.  Considering the geographical separation of just 14 miles, it was easy to understand the rivalry vibe these teams were emitting on the hardwood.  Both teams love to run up and down the court and certain segments of the game felt more like a hockey game.  And, like many rivalry games, the intensity and nerves caused for general ineptness in offensive execution.  The teams went into the locker rooms tied at 21 for halftime.  However, Corvallis had a stroke of offensive efficiency in the third quarter where they outscored the Yellowjackets 14-6 to take control of the game.  The Blue Devils went on to win the game 47-37.  That outcome pits the Blue Devils (14-5) against Dillon (16-3) for the divisional championship tomorrow night.

The nightcap contest for my hoops-frenzied day was a girls semifinal matchup between Stevensville and Dillon.  Both teams struggled to score in the contest as the game remained in single digits until the second quarter.  I had to leave before halftime to get back to Missoula and make edits for the 10:00 news, but Stevensville ended up with the low-scoring victory 36-30 over Dillon.  That puts the Lady Jackets (11-9) into the Championship game vs. Anaconda (15-4) tomorrow night.

12 hours after arriving to the station… I went home.  Gotta love the high school basketball playoff time of year!

Advertisements




Unexpected Barn-Burner

18 02 2010

February 17, 2010

It’s normally fitting to expect a 3-seed and a 6-seed to play each other fairly tightly.  However, this was not something I was expecting when I walked into a Districts quarterfinal match between the 2-16 Superior Bobcats and the 13-5 Missoula Valley Christian Eagles in Hamilton, Montana.  I’d explain my reasoning but my argument was well-stated when I mentioned the teams’ records just now.

The game started out exactly as I pictured, as the Eagles jumped out to a quick 22-6 lead.  However, the Bobcats began to scratch and claw the lead away during the second quarter.  The lucky bounces seemed to be blessed upon the Bobcats tonight as they were able to cash in on many second chance points while out-rebounding their opponent 43-24.  In fact, Superior was able to pull within 6 points at 25-19 before vacating the court for halftime.

The second half of action, and particularly the final quarter, was as close as any basketball fan can hope for.  Nearly every basket down the stretch caused a tie or lead change.  Every possession become more and more precious and every second gone made the mood more and more tense.

In the final climactic moments of the matchup, Superior in-bounded with just 20 seconds to go, down by two points.  Eric Steinebach, who had just hit a pivotal three moments earlier to give Superior a lead, threw up an awkward jumper that didn’t fall.  Teammate Ryan Bowers, who finished the game with 16 rebounds, grabbed the offensive board and converted the layup to tie the game up at 47 with just 12 seconds to go.

However just one quick breath later, Valley Christian’s Andrew Schmautz gets fouled while receiving the inbounds pass… taking him to the charity stripe for two attempts.  With ice in his veins, Schmautz drilled both his shots to put the Eagles on top 49-47.  The Bobcats were unable to even get a desperation shot off, turning the ball over out of bounds as they raced down the court.

A Bobcats squad that had suffered such an unimpressive season had been just one play away from making a very impressive upset… however at the end of the night the final score had to label a gutsy and heart-broken Superior team as the contest’s inferior team, as is the only duty a scoreboard knows.   The Bobcats can surely expect greener pastures in future seasons as they move forward.

As for Valley Christian, they are still puffing sighs of relief over their near-loss on the court today.  Short-term memory is a must for the Eagles however, as they will face an extremely talented 17-1 Florence Falcons squad in tomorrow night’s semifinal.