Sometimes the Ball Doesn’t Go In

Fergus Falls – 40, Alexandria – 36.  You know it was a big game. Ruthie was there for the first time. Gary Otto was there for the first time. And Laura and Larry McCoy were there for the first time – well, at least since the 80’s when they watched three all-conference progeny perform on a regular basis. And, of course, Luella and Otto were there. We were all there to watch our undefeated girls’ basketball Cards play once beaten Fergus Falls to keep pace with undefeated Sartell in the conference. I think it was the biggest crowd of the season, boy or girl.

[Super, SUPER fans, Luella and Otto Vendell]

After a fine dining experience on the supervisor’s D. Michael B’s gift certificate, a birthday present from the kids, we arrived early at JHS to catch a good part of the JV game – you know, to check out the future. The JV team had a winning record – but the problem with basketball at that level is that it can be like watching fast pitch softball with a dominant pitcher; a big player makes it a one-person game. Fergus Falls had a 6’2”center, and she was at least 4” taller than anyone for Alex. The Otters just kept lobbing the ball into her, she’d make a lay-up, and they did it over and over again. The game was a rout for the Otters – so we really couldn’t tell much; except when they’re all varsity players we hope the Alex girls have grown to a similar size.

[Varsity, in civvies, there to cheer on the JV]

There was concern in that regard for the varsity game. Although the Cards have good overall size with three 6’1” players, Fergus has a 6’3” center and two other players who are 6’2”. A couple of inches can make a big difference in the girls’ game. But soon after the game began, we could see that size difference wasn’t going to make a difference – except to the extent the Cards may have rushed shots from underneath. The Card “bigs” have an athletic edge on the Otters – quicker, faster, better jumpers. And while that athletic edge did neutralize the Otters good center, to her credit when she did get the ball underneath, she made her shots . . .

That is something the Cards couldn’t do. Despite another great defensive game – that thoroughly impressed the McCoys – poor shooting percentages from the floor and the free throw line doomed the Cards. If you hold a good team to 40 points, your chances for victory are generally pretty good. But the Cards faced another packed in 2-3 zone, with big people on the back row, and were hesitant to shoot from the periphery. Only Alli Haar seemed willing to shoot something other than lay-ups.  [Late entry from the January 19 Echo – the Cards shot less than 20 per cent for the game.  Their defense is so good they almost win despite their shooting.]

Despite the loss, the team created new fans. They are as impressed as I am by the best defensive team I have ever seen – and that makes them extremely entertaining to watch. They will be in the running for post-season success – and we’ll go along for the ride. Next up – at undefeated Sartell (they beat Fergus) on Tuesday. Should be another dynamite game!  [That day is also forecast to be the 1st of three days in a row where the thermometer is not expected to breach ZERO.  I know the snowbirds love to hear that stuff.]

Video of the 1st 5 minutes of the game, with analysis from “Dr.” McCoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkyDnCpOfJE

[In keeping with the melancholy nature of the weekend, we decided to de-Christmasize the house this morning.  Now the place looks like Broadway after the lights are down – a little drab and boring.  For your information, there were 62 ornaments on the 6-foot tree on the lower level.  I’m sure you’ve been lying awake nights wondering about that.]

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