Sunday, February 27, 2011

March Madness Comes Early

Normally, you won't see me writing about Webster Groves on this site. . . that just goes with the territory when you teach at Kirkwood.  But I hope Dr. Holley will forgive me.

I was witness to one of the greatest high school basketball games I've ever seen, when Chaminade and Webster hooked up for the District Championship on Saturday.  Webster had won 13 straight and Chaminade entered the contest undefeated and ranked #1 in the state.  The game sold out shortly after tickets went on sale Friday, and as I approached the gym, I was asked numerous times if I "had an extra ticket"?  

Everyone in the packed house new about Chaminade All-American Bradley Beal.  He's simply one of the finest basketball players ever to come out of St. Louis.  Is he the best?  He could be. . . He's at least in the conversation with Larry Hughes, Jo Jo White, and maybe one or two others.  (I'm not the greatest historian, so I apologize if there are players I'm leaving out).  Anyway, it doesn't really matter if he's the "best".  He's so good, it's ridiculous.  He didn't disappoint on this afternoon, finishing with 40 points including a staggering EIGHT 3-pointers.

But I'm pretty sure not everyone new about Webster junior Rayshawn Simmons, who almost match Beal point-for-point, finishing the contest with 33.  Dick Vitale would have called him a "PTP-er, Baby!!!!  He's Smooth, Scintillating, and Sensational!!!!"  

This was a battle from the start as Chaminade jumped out to an early lead.  Following an early Webster timeout, the Statesmen battled back and actually took the lead going into the half.  Tempers flared following a hard foul, and a small skirmish ensued resulting in 3 players receiving technicals and one player getting ejected.  There was no backing down by either team, and it was hard to believe someone would actually win this thing. 

Webster built a 5 point lead at the 3 minute mark, but Chaminade managed to make several crucial shots and free throws down the stretch to secure the victory and keep their hopes alive for an undefeated state championship.

Jay Blossom is a good friend of mine.  He whipped my butt numerous times when I was the varsity coach at Kirkwood.  Under normal circumstances, the job he did this year would be considered outstanding.  But Jay's done it while battling a detached retina and subsequent surgeries, that have left him wondering about his eyesight.  I went through the same procedure two years ago, and I can tell you from experience how frightening and frustrating it is.  I had already retired from coaching when I had my surgery, and it knocked me down for several weeks, so to have to endure it while coaching is nothing short of a miracle.  I hope Jay will have a chance to finally rest a little and take care of himself now.  Congratulations, Jay, on an outstanding season, and for supplying us with one of the great high school hoops experiences I've ever witnessed.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Pioneers Add "DISTRICT CHAMPS" to Resume!

 In a game the Pioneers controlled from the opening tip, Lianna Doty showed why she is considered one of the best point guards in the state and her Pioneer teammates uped the ante on defense and cruised to a District Championship over a tough Cor Jesu team that had beaten the Pioneers back in December.  Coach Brad Sutterer must have said everything right before the game, because tonight's first half was a far cry from last night's.  The Pioneers were aggressive without being careless and built an early lead they would never relinquish.  Dr. Holley was excited the entire night, and as the final seconds ticked off the clock, he lead the crowd in a rousing ovation.

The Pioneers now move on to Sectional play.  It is an especially exciting time for these players, so c'mon out and support them as they move on through the playoffs!  GO PIONEERS!!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pioneers Celebrate Seniors, Undefeated Conference Championship

It was Senior Night for three outstanding young ladies of the Kirkwood Basketball Program, players Tara Taylor and Allison Lieb, and Manager Grace Mehan.  

Allison is an extremely bright and kind individual.  I was fortunate enough to have her as a student when she was a sophomore, and you could tell back then that she had something special and was on her way to accomplishing great things.  She took her junior year off from playing basketball but decided to return for her senior year, and I'm really happy that she did.  You know, just by knowing Allison, that she brought so much positive energy to the program.  She worked hard everyday, and encouraged and supported her teammates while supplying the team with an inside post presence and some valuable minutes.  Thanks, Allison!

Tara Taylor transferred in during the first semester and wound up in my first hour class.  She was a quiet and reserved student when she decided to go out for basketball.  It's a great reflection on the team the way Tara has opened up in class.  I think this group accepted her and embraced her and it's allowed her to really flourish at school.  She has done outstanding work and takes pride in doing things right.  She's very likable, and it was a thrill when she knocked down a "3" tonight.  The bench exploded into cheers and smiles, and it was easy to see how happy they were for Tara.  Tara is also the world's biggest Green Bay Packers fan.  She wore the same Packers sweatshirt for the final month of the NFL season all the way through the Super Bowl.  Tara, I'm glad you came to Kirkwood. 

Grace is, well. . . Grace.  She's been a fixture at KHS Girls basketball games, handing out water and cheering the ladies on and making sure Coach Brad minds his P's and Q's.  She takes great pride in her work, and has often chastised me for getting out of line.  She's even taken over pre-game talks and inspired the team with tales of her field hockey prowess.  Great job, Grace! 

Congratulations to Coach Brad Sutterer!  In your first season as Head Coach, you bring home an undefeated conference championship.  More importantly, you have done such a great job in helping these young ladies and their families have a great experience.  Keep up the outstanding work, and best of luck as you head into Districts and beyond!!

Dr. Holley. . . there you are on the court before the game, sneaking popcorn to the players. . . and there you are after the game, handing out "Conference Champion T-shirts".  You're simply the best.  You "get it", and you've made it possible for the rest of us to watch you and see what's "really important".  Thanks.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pioneers Take 5 of 6 From Rival Statesmen

It was a fitting Friday night for what is "Rivalry Week" on ESPN. . . The Pioneers and Statesmen hooking up for 6 basketball games.  The Pioneers took 5 of the 6 (Freshmen Boys, Freshmen Girls, JV Boys, JV Girls, and Varsity Girls) with the lone casualty being the Varsity Boys who ran into a Webster team that has run it's conference winning streak to an amazing 71 games.

The victory for the Varsity Girls guaranteed them at least a tie for the Conference Championship with two games remaining.  That would be quite an accomplishment for the girls, and for Coach Brad Sutterer who is in his initial campaign as Head Coach.  Check out the story on the game, and the exploits of junior guard Lianna Doty at:  (not a link, so you'll have to copy and paste into your browser)

The boy's varsity contest was a physical affair with every shot contested and as many bodies on the floor as in the air.  Webster came out on fire and never let up.

The KHS Pommies performed at halftime, giving the fans a dose of what they did last weekend in Orlando, Florida at the Pommie National Dance Competition.  They were amazing, and the crowd responded with a long ovation.  You could see the emotion on the pommies afterwards.  It was the true emotion that comes from the sacrifice and dedication it takes to do what they did and compete on the national level.  I have several of these young ladies in class.  They are hard-working, dedicated young people who pushed themselves beyond normal expectations, and we are all very proud of them!

I'm a huge Dr. Holley fan, and one of the marks he's left on this school is the tradition of singing the alma-mater.  The cheerleaders lead the student body in the singing between the 3rd and 4th quarters of both football and basketball games.  I love it.  You can get chills listening to high school kids sing about their school and the pride they have in it. . . 

Winter seasons are winding down as Districts are fast-approaching.  We wish all winter teams the best in the playoffs, and look forward to warmer weather and some awesome spring sports!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ice Storm

You gotta love a good ice storm. . . It was certainly an odd day.  The sleet never seemed to turn to snow as predicted, and when I went out to shovel, it almost seemed fake.  Pellets filled the shovel rather than flakes.  The accumulation was less as sleet than it would have been as snow, but it still made for a day off of school.  Continued weather tonight has already caused school to be cancelled again tomorrow.  

After shoveling, I took a walk around the yard and found these pictures.