That proved exactly true. LCC opened up by winning the tip and throwing it to Chase down low for a dunk. Whiz-bang-score. Maybe five seconds had ticked off the clock. They scored the first ten points and never looked back. They held Todd Lowenthal to 19 points, most of it in the first half. Chase had 48. Just... *fuck*. We couldn't get any offensive streaks going, we couldn't stop Chase (It's too long and cumbersome to type "Budinger",) and we couldn't match their intensity. We did exactly what I expected us to do, and lost 80-59.
But I'm not upset. I saw a good thing in our game, and it's all I needed to see to be happy. Near the end, we subbed in our bench. Blake LaRue is one of our junior guards. (I coach his brother Kevin, a freshman, in baseball.) Our game is a lost cause by now. Blake comes in, on the first possession, takes a pass from inside on the perimeter, lands and drains a 3. He came out, played hard, played smart, and played with intensity the whole time. At 5'10, he steps out in front of 6'5" Chase Budinger, with no hesitation, and takes a charge. Bonus, Chase was passing the ball off at the time, so the referee called it an ordinary foul, and Blake went to the line over it. Hit both free throws, kept going. Blake was involved in every one of our last ten points--scoring the first five, then finding Brian Leininger for a 2 and a 3, picking up assists.
It is very easy for a teenage boy to come off the bench (which he doesn't often leave) in this situation and just give a half-assed performance. Jack up a few wild shots hoping they go in to impress a few friends in the stands. It takes a lot of maturity to step up and play as if you're the team's starter and it's a playoff game. Blake did that. If every one of our kids played like that, every game, we wouldn't have more than two or three losses under our belt, and they would have been very close ones.
So that makes my evening.
But it gets better...
The freshmen got back. They had been down sixteen points at the end of the first quarter, and came back to win by 4. It took the whole rest of the game to do it, but they did. La Costa was bigger, and they started out hot, but our kids pulled it off. For a varsity team, it's hard to come back from that far behind that early. For a bunch of 14-year olds? Monumental. I asked our frosh coaches how Kevin did. He was the spark for the whole thing, they told me. He was scoring, he was pulling down rebounds from the midst of kids a head taller than him (5' 5 1/2",) he was keeping people motivated. It sounds like I missed a hell of a performance. Both of the LaRue boys had blockbuster nights.
It's a trip, seeing my people do well.