Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Game of the Night

The day began cold and snowy. The morning rush hour dragged through sloppy roads. People marched to work on a Tuesday. The expression on their melancholy faces told the entire story. Why isn’t it spring yet? Why is the winter still dragging on? How can we make it through another month of freezing nights and sloppy conditions? On my lunch break from my other job close to the Monona Terrace, I walked across the street towards the capitol building and a river of slop, much like the river of slime in Ghostbusters two, was rushing under my feet. I think it caused a few people to fight as well (another attribute associated with the river of slime). The day seemed like it was never going to end.

Then something happened: a flash, an answer as to why we should enjoy the month of February. The reason flashed before my eyes of why we can make it through the month and build an even larger appreciation for March. Did somebody guess what it is? No, it isn’t because February is only 28 days long. The answer is the final stretch of the winter preps sports season, and tonight the showcase was on boy’s and girl’s basketball. But out of the 80 plus games in the area and all the conference showdowns, there was one non-conference game that stood out to make the winter much more enjoyable.

It was the Delafield St. John’s Northwest Military Academy at Watertown Luther Prep boy’s basketball game. St. John’s won 71-68. Here is a link to the Madison.com box score: http://prepstats.madison.com/?sport_id=1&view=boxscore&view_id=54360.

Although you can see the game was close, there is much hidden from your view. Let’s break down the first half. Kevin Mays, a junior forward, scored 11 points in the first for St. John’s and helped them build a 15-point cushion. They took advantage of a flat-footed Luther Prep team that didn’t seem ready to play. Now, it seemed like Luther Prep was in trouble and St. John’s had them right where they wanted. Wrong. Instead, Luther Prep’s Dante Kuehl, Andrew Nottling and Jake Ziel each had six points in the second quarter to help cut the lead to five at the half. Suddenly, the game wasn’t so clear-cut anymore.

The second half proved to be the true entertainment after an exciting flip-flop first half. Luther Prep would grab a one-point lead at 41-40 with four and a half minutes to play before losing it as soon afterwards. They continued to put the pressure on St. John’s and took another one-point lead at 59-58 with six minutes left in the fourth. The feeling was that the game would be decided on a last second shot. The back and forth contest had to end that way. It couldn’t be decided earlier. And, my wish came true. With 23 seconds to go, Josh Schroeder nailed two free throws, making him four of four from the line for the game, to tie it at 68.

Here we go. St. John’s had the ball with a chance to win the game. A miss would send it into overtime, but a basket would make a hero. Sure enough, with five seconds to go, the ball found the open man in the corner. Chris McFarlane, who scored 20 points for St. John’s, nailed a 3-pointer with two seconds to go to win the game. The last seconds weren’t enough for Luther Prep, and they shot a miracle ball from half court with opposing players in their face. It was over. St. John’s had survived the wild night.

The impressive part about the victory was coming into the home court of a Northern Capitol conference power and out lasting the crowd to get a huge win. Watertown Luther Prep is 12-3 and 6-1 in the conference, standing alone in first place. Delafield St. John’s is 9-5 and 4-2 in the Central Midwest Classic conference. But the records don’t matter on this night. On this night, the Lancers are the victors; the Lancers are the ones who hold their heads high; the Lancers and Phoenix gave me a reason to look forward to the next cold winter day. We are in the final stretch of the prep basketball season, and we will have many more games of the night like this one. Enjoy.

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