Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Newspaper article....

My first!

Movies are made about games like the contest Friday night between Exeter and Coalinga. Admittedly, it wasn’t the US beating the Russians in ice hockey, but to everyone who packed the Exeter gym that night, it was much more satisfying. Ending on a two-point basket by senior JC Mitchell in the last second of play, the game will be remembered as one of the most exciting in Exeter’s history.

To say that the Exeter HS basketball team has struggled this year is an understatement. The Monarchs, though always fighting mightily, had yet to win a single league game and despite some near misses it looked as if the season might just end on that note. But thanks to the valiant efforts of some very determined young men, lead by point guard Mitchell, that outcome was averted. Mitchell, along with seniors Frankie Cabrera, James LeClerc and Arturo Soto, played the game of their lives. The seniors, and teammates Clay James and Matt Jordan, clearly were determined to avoid the sting of a winless season.

The game started as it ended, close. It was well fought on both sides of the court, never more than eight points separating the teams. The Horned Toads were lead by B. J. Warren with 23 points and the Monarchs by J.C. Mitchell with 26. Though the outcome was in question most of the night, the Coalinga five held the lead almost the entire game.

Late in the 4th quarter, with less than 30 seconds to play, Exeter trailing by two, the Monarchs brought the ball up the court. The ball was passed around between several players before James LeClerc shot and hit a crucial three-pointer to put the Monarchs ahead for the first time in the second half. Coalinga called timeout and planned the strategy for what would be their final shot. The Horned Toads took the ball down the court and though the Monarchs defended vigorously, Joey Garcia sank a basket to put Coalinga up by one. Now it was Exeter’s turn for a final time-out and Coach Reeder’s last chance to rally the troops.

The Monarchs brought the ball in with 11 seconds left in the game. As the five young men advanced up the court everyone in the gym was on their feet. A few passes and the ball ended up in Mitchell’s capable hands. Driving towards the basket it looked as if the game was over, the seconds having dwindled down to a single digit on the scoreboard before Mitchell, off balance and under pressure, took the last shot of the game. As the buzzer rang, the ball arched its way down and through the hoop. The crowd went wild, storming the court and hoisting Mitchell on their shoulders for a victory lap around the gym.

The celebration might have seemed excessive to the Coalinga fans. It might have seemed excessive to anyone with just a cursory glance at this team's record. One win, nine losses, who cares! The Monarchs needed this one. JC needed this one. Exeter needed this one.


Kenny said...

I've been lurking on your blog for a while for the pretty peektures, but congrats on your story here.

You made basketball dramatic and fun! (No small feat considering this slender sliver of your audience.)

Maureen said...

Wow, thanks for the I have 4 readers!!!