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.


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