Sunday, December 19, 2004

Finding a Game on Friday Night

Friday began with the best of intentions. As I noted, my buddy Kevin and I were headed out to see a high school basketball game. We were looking at primarily three games to take in. The choices were as follow:

1) Milwaukee Pius at Hartland Arrowhead: Pros to attending this game included getting our first look at Arrowhead sophomore phenom Charlie Chapman, and checking out a well-coached Joel Claassen Pius squad. The primary con was the long drive to Arrowhead from the Milwaukee Metro area.

2) Milwaukee King at Milwaukee Madison: The big draw of this game was the King players. Getting to see such buzzworthy players as Mitchell Carter, James Pruitt, and all-world freshman Korie Lucious had some appeal. A nationally ranked team is always fun to see. It was also a chance to see a City Conference game in one of the more safe looking neighborhoods in the district. The major negative seemed to be that Milwaukee Madison isn't exactly a traditional basketball powerhouse, and an ass-kicking was likely to occur.

3) Milwaukee Marquette at Brookfield East: I didn't expect much serious consideration on this one, but I really wanted to see Marquette's two big men, Alexis Pease and Matt Mulcahy. Both could be playing lower-level division one basketball this time next year, and my fascination with Pease's outstanding footwork is well-documented. And I still hadn't seen them this year.

So, after weighing our options, we decided to head to Milwaukee Madison, since chances to see King at an away city venue that seems safe are few and far between. So we set forth on our journey, and quickly found Milwaukee Madison at about 6:45, a good 45 mintues before the average start time of area high school games. We also saw a huge line to get in, three squad cars, and a blocked off street on the North side of the school. So much for that safety idea. I was also wary of getting crammed into some tiny, sweaty gym after my experience of going to see Torre Johnson at Milwaukee Juneau two years ago. Upon discussion, Kevin and I decided to go elsewhere, since there are always plenty of decent games on a Friday. In the end, we decided to forego the Pius-Arrowhead game because of the drive, and the Marquette-Brookfield East game due to lack of burning interest, and headed to see Tosa East play at Sussex Hamilton. Though I wanted to get away from another Tosa game, Kevin wanted to see Jerry Smith, and I knew my friends Kosta and Brian were already there. It wasn't my first option for a game, but heck, basketball was still being played, right?

After a long drive and a stop at a gas station for directions, we ended up at Sussex Hamilton High School. Upon entering the gym, Kevin began frantically tapping me and saying "Look who's sitting there!" I saw Brian and Kosta, and replied "Yeah, I see the Kosta, and he's got space by him. Let's go." Kevin persisted "No, look to the right of them!" I glanced at the next section over and saw Bo Ryan and his wife. Though the game was my fourth choice, I guess you can't argue when the coach of the Badgers is in the house.

The game itself? Well, that's a bit less exciting than the voyage itself. Sussex Hamilton kept the score close through the third quarter before Tosa East pulled away in the fourth. Additionally, Hamilton guard Derek Olson proved himself to be the best player that I have seen this year who is not named Ryback or Smith. I suppose that's partly a nod to Olson's ability, and partly a sign that I need to diversify my game watching and get out of the Greater Metro conference for a night or two. I kind of knew the latter point, though. As for a Jerry Smith update, he's begun to play some more point guard, which is nice. Nothing particularly stood out from his game, though it was solid.

Of note for the rest of the evening, I met up with some other friends at a tavern after the game, and chatted briefly with a co-worker of a friend of mine. Upon his mention that he played at Homestead High, I attempted to drop any name from Homestead history that I could on him. The mention of Selento Rockett got me in the door to a lengthy basketball conversation, as not just your everyday fan can drop the top player from the 1992-93 Highlander squad into casual conversation. I got some great comments from this guy, ranging from a hilarious story about the time he had to guard Marshall Williams during sectionals, and some thoughts on Kaspars Kambala during his days in high school. All in all, a great night. I eventually finished up and went to bed, though, as I needed my rest. After all, there was basketball to be watched the next day.


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