I just got back from my rec league basketball game. Last you heard, we had lost in the first round of the playoffs in a second half collapse. Well the new season is now upon us, (well, actually it was upon us last week but the other team forfeited) and thankfully I have come away from the first game uninjured.
Tonights game was a bit of a debacle. We were short-handed due to lack of interest and injuries within our team. Several of the players from last season's team have decided to sit this season out, including our tallest and most dominant player. But we're a scrappy bunch, so we can win without him. And we can win with only 4 players playing the entire first half. Huh?
Yep, we had three at gametime, and player number four showed up three minutes into the game, allowing us to avoid the immediate disqualification. (We had five minutes to field a team of 4). However, if we didn't have 5 by the start of the second half, we would have to forfeit. We frantically made calls to everyone we knew, though most were too lazy or didn't wish to drive all the way out into the middle of Rockville in 15 minutes (if it was even possible).
Well, what difference would it make? We were four short white guys against 9 tall black guys...this could get ugly. Did I mention that our jerseys are green and have a clover with the number 33 inside it? Real ugly.
With two minutes to go in the first half, we are up by 2. They have called both of their timeouts and we have just called our second as well. However, there is no fifth man in sight. But he is on his way. Could this really be happening?
The half comes to a close; we're down by four. My brother and my buddy Greg are shooting lights out and we're able to defend their careless play with a 2-2 zone. And I haven't even gotten called for a foul yet. (usually the downfall of a short-handed team)
Then the countdown begins. We have two minutes for player #5 to show. One minute. Thirty seconds. I am pleading with the ref since he knows we were there last week and were forced to suffer as a result of a forfeit, and don't want to be disappointed again. And then he arrives. Our 5'2" point guard from last season. Not exactly Larry Bird himself, but hey, at least we can play the second half. And we come out gunning.
Within minutes we are running these guys into the ground. Sprinting back every possession and scoring on easy layups with ten seconds of touching the ball. They're winded, they're reeling, and they're down by 6 quick.
And then they realize. They are big. They are black (yeah, I said it...again). And Greg (our big man at a generous 6'2") already has three fouls. Now running a 2-1-2 zone, they start posting up inside and within moments Greg has attained foul number 4 and is forced to play timid. We're starting to lose steam as 15 minutes of 4 on 5 basketball is starting to show. But we're hanging in there. I'm starting to us some of my fouls, hopefully keeping their interior scoring down. Down by 2, up by 1, down by 1. And then we slip.
I won't go into the details of the finale, but we showed perseverence, stuck with a team that obviously was better than us, and we came up just short. It was arguably one of the more enjoyable games of basketball that I have played in a long time. Because all four of us knew that we stood no chance unless we gave it 150% for as long as our bodies could handle it, and that's exactly what we did. Outmanned? Overmatched? As a team, we were definitely not. That's why I love playing sports.
Just wait til we have 5 guys all game.