Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tosa East vs. Menomonee Falls: Battling Through the Snow

It was a busy night for me tonight–first I shoveled snow. Then I changed clothes. Then I headed to the Tosa East-Menomonee Falls game at Tosa East. Then I went home and shoveled some more snow. Then I watched the Wisconsin-Idaho State game. Then I went to bed. Below are my thoughts about the high school game, mostly written during the brief time between those final two parts of my night:

1) Part of my attendance last evening was due to my desire to learn more about what’s going on with the Larry Bradley eligibility situation, and I did just that just moments after walking in the door and talking to my friend Gus. The news with regard to basketball was good, and is reported more fully in a Journal Sentinel piece this morning. The long and the short of it is that Bradley will be eligible for varsity play once his uncle is appointed as his guardian. I suspect that it will still be at least a few weeks until Bradley suits up for competition, though, as the process of appointing a guardian isn’t something that takes place overnight. It’s sort of a bittersweet victory, because while it’s nice that Bradley will get to play basketball this year, you sort of wish he wasn’t in a life situation that even makes this an issue. But I suppose you take the victories that you can get. (Update--thanks to Gus for passing along a link to the WIAA Ruling on this matter.)

2) Big off the court news last night, as Tosa East unveiled a new pirate-themed mascot costume at last night’s game. I’ve got mixed feelings on this one. On one hand, I’m glad to see another live mascot at a high school game, as we have too few of them right now. I also like that there’s another step towards the pirate theme at Tosa East. And in general, I thought the student wearing the costume put forth a nice effort for his first time in the suit. On the other hand, I’m not crazy about the design of the costume itself, and perhaps more importantly, I now have to stop referring to my older brother as the last man to ever don the Tosa East mascot attire for his stint as the Raider back in 1988.

3) I came away from the evening impressed with not only the hard-nosed play of Menomonee Falls guard John Cording, but the fact that he played the game in a sportsman-like manner. I actually question whether he and Tosa East’s Barrett Powell have some sort of prior friendship, because at multiple times I saw those two players pat each other on the back after or help one another up after a whistle.

4) Aside from the Bradley eligibility question, one of the other key reasons that I wanted to check out this particular game was to get a look at Falls freshman J.P. Tokoto. I can’t say that I got a great read on his game, as his minutes were slightly limited due to foul trouble, but I can say that I’ve only seen one or two freshmen throw down a dunk as impressively as he did in the final seconds of the game.

5) Typically when I go to games at Tosa East, I try to sit in the section for the visiting team’s fans. Aside from it being the first section there when you walk into the gym, it’s usually less crowded, and allows me and people that I’m with to feel a bit more anonymous. Last night was sort of an exception to the crowd issue, as for the first time in my memory, the visiting adult section appeared more full than the home adult section. I found this particularly impressive, given that the day’s snowstorm would have made a drive from Menomonee Falls less attractive last night.

6) Just a thought for the folks at Tosa East–you’ve retired the jerseys of Tony Smith and Devin Harris and hung them over one of the entry ways. That’s a great gesture. It would be an even better thing, though, if you put their names somewhere near their jerseys to identify who’s being honored. Because sitting amongst visiting fans last night, it became apparent to me that not everyone was sure of whose jerseys were hanging in the gym. Actually, it can be confusing to the home crowd, too, as not everyone remembers that Devin Harris wore the number 20 in high school, rather than his college and pro number of 34, and anyone who can remember back to the Tony Smith era knows that the style of jersey that’s currently hung in the gym is one that Tosa East didn’t start wearing until roughly five years after Smith’s graduation. All I’m asking for is a little clarity here.

7) I’m sure a point of some sort was being made, but I wish that Menomonee Falls hadn’t called time out while down 15 points with a minute and a half to go. I didn’t mind seeing Falls press Tosa East’s deep reserves at the end of the game, as it provided as least something interesting to watch during garbage time, but given that I had to get home and shovel to close out the night, tacking one more minute onto the game felt like punishment.

8) I actually came away intrigued by Menomonee Falls last night. Even though Tosa East blasted past them in the third quarter, the Indians defend well, and are the rare high school team that has four decent players listed at 6'5" or above. If they develop a bit more toughness inside, their re-match with Tosa East could be a classic.

9) Special thanks to the two young men who helped me push my car out of the snow after the game last night. Though I go to lots of high school basketball games around the area, I seldom actually interact with high school students. So when a young man in a Tosa East letter jacket saw me struggling to pull my car away from the curb last night offered to help me out, it sort of made me feel good about today’s youth. We might constantly read about drugs and violence in schools, but it’s nice to know that there’s still a couple of guys out there happy to push a random stranger’s car out of a snow bank.

With my car back on the road, I used it to get home and finish up shoveling. I also took in the Wisconsin-Idaho State game, but those are thoughts for another time, assuming I don’t try to forget about the Badgers having to squeak out a tough win against the third most recognizable institution of higher learning in Idaho.


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