For the last few months I have been playing basketball with a pretty cool team. Kyle, one of my oldest and closest friends is on it. So are Josh and Joe, friends in their own right and special to me because of the love I have for their parents, Dan and Vickie.
The others are guys I have come to know and enjoy playing with.
On the one hand, it has been a bit tough. I am not the player I used to be. Ever since about...oh, 6th grade, maybe 7th...I have been a superior rebounder. I had to be. I was either playing against guys taller and older than me or else playing 1 on 2 type games. If I wanted to win, I had to be a great rebounder.
And oh how I wanted to win.
Well, I am no longer the athlete I used to be. This was really brought home one game a couple months ago. I se3t my eyes on a rebound, timesd my jump perfectly, was at the apex of my leap...and did not even touch the ball as a guy just reached over me and took it.
But I have stuck with it. I worked hard to pass the ball to the right guy at the right time, be in the right place defensively. Get back on defense. Rebound when I coul, box out when I could not.
Well, the league put together a "Spring Madness" tournament. Modeled after the Final Four, it put together 64 teams of vaguely similar ability, seeded them, and ran a tournament.
We were a 6 seed. Eh.
Tonight, we had a double header. If we won the first game, we played for the championship. If we lost the first game, we played for 4th place.
The first game started really badly. We were down 19-3. Just getting hammered. Could not score. So I got more aggressive than I have been all year and put up some shots. My shot was off and I missed the first three.
But it got me flowing and my rebounding stepped up.
Our shooters started hitting. Nate, Patrick and Joe were hitting from outside, Joe, Josh and John were driving, Steve was rebounding like a demon. I got a handful of offensive rebounds and scored on the putbacks 3 or 4 times. We all tipped passes, jumped in passing lanes, closed out on shooters.
And worked our way back. Within 10. Within 5. Tied. Up 2. Up 5. Up 10. Ended up winning by about 13 or 14.
The other team had gotten about a ten minute rest. No big deal. We came out flat yet again. We were heaving threes. they started building a lead. 2. 4. 5. Down to three. Up to 7. Down to 4. Up to 8. 10. 12.
Halftime saw a 19 point deficit. We started catching up but Joe sprained his ankle. Josh injured his hanmstring. We were all sucking win.
6:52 left, we were down 16. "One more push" someone shouted. We hit a three. A couple fast breaks. Another three. They hit a couple fast breaks to push it back to ten.
We come back, scratching and clawing. Down to 4. 2 Tied.
We tied it with 2:52 left. Both teams missed a couple shots. With a minute left we started stalling for the last shot. They tried to foul, then tried to trap and fouled on the trap.
Nate hit both free throws. Up 2.
Tough defense, they cannot score, we get the rebound in a huge mosh pit. They foul Nate. He hits both free throws...and they do not score again.
Twice in one night we come back from deficits of 16+ points to win, both against formerly undefeated teams.
And we are the champions of a 64 team tournament. I had forgotten how awesome it felt to win a title. To do it like that...suffice it to say, I am PUMPED!