Archive for Thursday, March 6, 2008

The eephus pitch

March 6, 2008

As I sat watching the waning minutes of the girls basketball team's season Saturday night in Spring Hill, Channel 6's DJ Whetter said something to me that really got me thinking about this season - the first entire season of sports I've covered in Eudora.

We were talking about the game and the teams, among other things - from how well Basehor-Linwood shot the ball to what the outcome of the Kansas-Kansas State game would be.

He said something along the lines of, "This is a good group to follow," talking about the senior and junior classes of girls from Eudora.

On reflection, I had to agree.

They are an athletic group, winning state in volleyball in 2006 and coming within one win of advancing to the state basketball tournament each of the past two years.

But it's a good group to follow aside from athletic ability.

I remember in Ottawa when the game became physical and Ottawa's coach and crowd came unglued a little bit and Ottawa's players on the floor reflected that frustration, getting physical and even committing a couple fouls that were borderline flagrant. Elbows were flying and fouls became more and more intentional and callous.

I was kind of embarrassed for everyone in the building.

You could tell it was getting out of hand, and the referees probably weren't in complete control.

But Eudora's girls never let it get to them.

After being fouled excessively hard and knocked to the floor one time, Emily Ballock just got up, gave the ball to the referee and lined up for the in-bounds play.

These girls just play.

Elaina Kouri ran around the court for most of the season sporting a permagrin, a symbol of what high school athletics are all about. It was fun for them, and you could tell the group was composed of close friends who were having fun the whole time.

After the game, coach Ryan Luke and I talked briefly about it and about how there's a fine line between a coach fighting for calls for his or her players and that disgruntlement rubbing off on the players themselves.

A Eudora fan never had to worry about that line being crossed with this group of girls or their coach.

The only way you could tell Nikki Snider didn't like a call was the knowing smile she flashed when she knew she'd been wronged.

The same can be said for Haley Epperson.

So even if the season ended prematurely for the Cardinals, these girls have nothing to hang their heads about. They represented the community in a very positive light, and people notice that.

Sometimes it's in our failures that we show our most valuable attributes.

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