I’m not happy. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I won’t forget. It’s wrong and will never be right. But tonight I am thankful for making the decision I did. A decision I thought about and wavered on for the last 24 hours. I had an excuse. Bryson had practice. No brainer, but after yesterday’s game, practice was cancelled and my excuse was gone. It was on me. Would I go to see my guys play their first game tonight or not?
I went. I arrived at the tip of the freshman game. Several varsity players came over and got me talking. I spoke to a few parents, but my guys were sparse. A few nods, a couple handshakes, and eventually a few sat down with me. Dallas spontaneously said what I was feeling, “I miss you man.” Through the next ten minutes or so there were some random flurries of dust particles in the gym. I weathered the storm, and near the start of the JV I agreed to keep the book.
The game started slowly. Brantley in my estimation wasn’t very good, but the took an early 10-4 lead. My guys got going as the first quarter went along and trailed 17-14. The second quarter was scintillating. They pressed, and trapped and scored in bundles winning the quarter 28-18 to lead at the half 42-35.
I always took pride in my half-time work, and was distressed to see Brantley reverse the game in the third taking a 55-49 lead. Elijah Grooms hit two 3’s to start the 4th and draw the game level. The lead changed hands several times in the next seven minutes in a thrilling game. Elijah was on fire. Down 1 with under 20 seconds to play he came off a high screen and nailed a 3 with 11.5 seconds left to go up 72-70. Brantley missed, Dallas rebounded and hit 2 free throws. It ended 75-70. Elijah finished with 40 points.
I was not where I should be, but I felt connected to their accomplishment borne of the toil we endured over the last 10 months. They were not perfect, but they were improved, matured and composed when they needed to be.
I am reminded of Phillip of Macedonia’s words to Alexander the Great, “Ask for thyself another kingdom for that which I leave is too small.”