I remember the first time I watched the movie Rocky. I thought for sure that Rocky was going to knock Apollo Creed out and I know I’m not alone in that thought.
He had the heavyweight champ up on the ropes and the southpaw was giving him all that he could handle. With Mickey screaming at “Rock” from the corner it was Italian Stallion’s title for sure.
Then, I on a Saturday morning was dead wrong. It was a draw. Rocky didn’t win the title.
“Boo”, I yelled at 7 AM on a Saturday morning as I ate my Fruit Loops. I was crushed as Rocky yelled for Adrian in the middle of that ring in Philadelphia.
Then Rocky II came on.
Well I thought that the Consolation game between Belt and Cascade might actually go the way of Rocky II tonight. Cascade was the better team for the first half of basketball action.
The Lady Badgers, wearing the black and gold the Italian Stallion made famous, jumped out to an early lead after Belt led 2-0 to start the contest and took their advantage leading into the halftime 23-17. Cascade led the ball game for nearly 15 minutes.
Then Apollo Creed came to box. The smelling salts revived the Lady Huskies and they outscored Cascade 12 to 6 in the third quarter. The Lady Huskies tied it up at 29-29 going into the final stanza.
That’s when I started to feel like it could go either with the original Rocky or the sequel. It was nip and tuck there in the fourth frame. Cascade would score and Belt would answer back.
I know Coach Graham was sweating on the sideline when his squad missed their first 3 free throws in the fourth quarter. Heck I was even sweating. I’d hate to have seen Belt mount a comeback of that size and importance only to fall short because of the charity stripe.
Then Sara Anderson showed up. Anderson scored a grand total of 5 points going into the Consolation game, but she scored the most important 8 points of her life (I’m assuming) tonight.
Anderson knocked down 2 trey balls and hit 2 free throws to put the Lady Huskies ahead by more than one possession late in the game. For a 5’5 sophomore to step up and play that way was impressive.
Also starring for the Lady Huskies were Pimperton and Martin. Again these two stepped up like they always seem to do scoring 14 and 10 points respectively. Martin scored her 10 in the first half to keep the Lady Huskies alive against Cascade.
I have to feel bad for Cascade however who feel 39-35 to the Lady Huskies. Coaches Roger Hatler and Robin McKnight did such a great job with their squad. Leading this team to a game on Saturday night at the State Tournament is something special.
Special was the word that Coach Hatler called his girls after they had lost to Belt. “We just love those girls so much.”
Amen to that, Roger.
You could tell with the water welled up in his eyes that he meant this more than anything. He was sad the girls couldn’t topple the Lady Huskies whom they went toe to toe with just 8 days ago in the Northern C Divisional Championship.
That is what this game and these tournaments are all about. It’s about love. Love of the environment. Love of the game. Love of the teams.
Watching teams like Belt and Cascade give it all tonight made me understand why I love the game. A group of seniors like Ludvigson, Carpenter, Satterwhite, and Lesofski made the Cascade Badger faithful more than proud. They impressed me, that is for damn sure. Carpenter was a double-double machine and Ludvigson controlled the ball like no other. It was very fun basketball to watch.
To quote the late great professor Randy Pausch who wrote the book The Last Lecture (which I highly recommend you read) “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
That is exactly what came to mind when the Lady Huskies won the 3rd Place trophy here at the State C Girls’ Basketball Tournament.
They came to Missoula hoping to be the team who got to have the nets around their necks’ but they leave with something better. Experience.
The Lady Huskies have 6 juniors on this year’s squad and only a handful of those had real experience on the big stage for Coach Jeff Graham. However, the Lady Huskies took home a State Tournament trophy for the sixth time in 8 years.
They will be back.
For now though those Lady Huskies can look at that 3rd place trophy with pride.
Because even “The Champ, The Master of Disaster, The King of Sting, The Prince of Punch, and the Count of Monte Fisto” Apollo Creed wasn’t always the Champ.