Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Our New Local Cham'peens

Been awhile since I did any obligatory Mom-braggin' 'bout the younguns.
My youngest's basketball team won the tournament last night. And it was a surprizingly exciting game and a hard fought victory. These lil' gals earned the spot.

Popcorn League is a big deal here in the middle of nowhere. Thanks to some really piss poor financial management by the school board years ago, we lost high school football, so the only sport that the kids have to look forward to in the upper grades is basketball. Young potential high school talent is groomed in the elementary grade Popcorn League. It only runs for about 6 weeks in the dead of winter, but the kids all look forward to it and the final tournament is a major event in this 'burg of about 700. The really good players can later vie for a spot on the "traveling team" which pits the younguns against other local elementary schools and is yet another favorable addition to their resume' later on. My youngun wants to make the traveling team. After last night, she may get her wish. (Although Mom ain't looking forward to those 6 a.m. practices!!! Oy! A 20 mile drive to school at 5:30 in the morning? You're kidding, right? I think I like being a band mom better, the hours are more civilized.)

This tournament had been delayed 3 times due to the weather- we have had a spate of almost weekly ice storms, dumping sleet, ice and snow for nearly the entire month of February-always hitting either right on the weekends or close to it. Finally enough of the glop melted off and the weather stabilized long enough to get the games back on, and the tournament was hastily arranged for Monday night.
Naturally, my youngest had an orthodontist appointment that day as well, so Mom had to really hustle. I had to get her to her appointment by 2:50 (a 50 mile drive, one way) and really hope it was a quickie so that I could shuttle her back to the school by the 4:30 start time. We made it with 15 minutes to spare-enough time for her to get changed and warm up.

They beat their first team easily, 25 to 14. (My youngest making about 10 of those points!) Now we had a long spell to cool our heels while the other 2 girls teams and the boys teams duked it out. We cruised into town for some dinner.

When we got back we found out who they would be playing against- no surprize. It was the team they had just narrowly beat a few weeks ago, in overtime. These lil' gals play hard. And they have a not so secret weapon- The Moose.
The Moose is the unflattering nickname given to a 6th grade girl on that team who is about 5'8" and weighs nearly as much as a large adult. I'm guessing about 185. I'm not kidding. Every time I see her play I'm reminded of that basketball scene in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", where Nickleson's character is trying to teach the mute and mountainous "Chief" how to play. She's not fast, not aggressive...she's just, well, HUGE. And all the other lil' gals are scared to death of her. And like "Chief" she just lopes along and consistently makes baskets, simply because no one can even get near her reach. She towers above her teammates and all the other 6th grade girls. Most of them barely come up to her shoulder...on tippy-toes!

And mine always gets stuck with guarding her when they play, because she is the tallest on her team...but Moose has about 90 pounds on her. Mine fears the worst if Moose should lose her balance.

Nevertheless, our spunky lil' team went at it with all they had. Moose's team matched them point for point all 4 quarters. By the second half, Moose's face was a bright purple red. A good indicator how hard she was pushing her massive frame. We were giving them a run for their money. Possesion was rapid fire, and most of us looked like we were watching a ping-pong game rather than basketball. Mine got in her licks, making quite a few hoops. I was cheering myself hoarse from the stands. At the buzzer one of ours made a brave toss from half court, but missed- the score was 16 to 16. My youngest had earned 6 of those points. She was tired but psyched, had that crazed squirrel look. Like the others, she wanted this win...bad.
Now into over time.
Once again they went at it with all they had. Once again it was like ping-pong. Moose was wearing out. I could see her downcourt, hands on her knees, hunched over, breathing heavy. This was quite a workout for a very overweight 13 yr. old, they had played her for the entire game, she hadn't once had any bench time.
As the clock ticked down, neither team had scored! Then, just before the buzzer, divine intervention.
The Moose went down!
No one saw it, since all our attention was at our hoop where our kids were trying like heck to make a basket, rebounding like crazy to no avail-maybe that's why they call it Popcorn- all you could see was a cluster of kids, all bobbing and leaping. Moose was loping along just past half court and then -BOOM- on the floor, howling in pain. She was clutching her right knee. They stopped the clock with 6 seconds. I felt bad for the Moose. Her knees just couldn't cart all that weight any longer. It had to hurt. All the girls were visibly shakened.

The girls and boys P.E. coaches helped her up and lugged her to the bench. Moose was loudly sobbing. Ice was immediately administered. Play resumed. At the buzzer, still no winning points.
Now into sudden death. Geez! What a game!
With Moose out of the picture, our gals scored quickly. Game over...finally! The place erupted in hoots and cheers.18 to 16. WooHoo!
This had to have been one of the most exciting Popcorn Girls Leagues games ever in recent memory. In all the years mine have been playing I cannot ever recall one that went into sudden death and only one that went into overtime before.
I'm so proud of those kids.
And I really do hope Moose's injury ain't too severe. Poor thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of poor school management
.... have you seen the Watts school video over at http://reason.tv/

3/01/2008 8:47 PM  

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