The first stop on this year's Iowa High School Basketball Coaches Postseason Tournament Tour (#IHSBBCPTT) took my wife and I to Stuart last night to watch the West Central Valley Wildcats, coached by my buddy Drew Stonewall, take on the Bulldogs from Ogden. We were looking forward to an exciting game since these two teams had split their season series in the regular season and last night did not disappoint. The game came down to the final possessions but saw the fighting Stonewalls fall 51-48.
Before we get to the quick recap, I do have to get one of the greatest travesties I have ever seen in high school athletics in my lifetime off my chest. I could spend an entire Three Count complaining about the IHSAA and the IGHSAU charging a $6 admission fee to these postseason events and bleeding money from families coming to watch their son/daughter/brother/daughter/grandchild/freind/etc. play a high school sport but I'll save that for another day. But after paying $12 for my wife and I to get into the game we went to the concession stands quick. I got my usual Popcorn and a Skittles combo for the game and pulled out my $2 to pay and the guy running the concession stands gets my popcorn and Skittles and says "That will be $3". I'm taken aback for a second and try to figure out what extra food item he is trying to give me and realize it's just the two items I asked for. THEY WERE CHARGING $2 FOR A BAG OF POPCORN LAST NIGHT!!!!
That's right, I am devoting two paragraphs to this. I couldn't believe it. Popcorn. $2. Again, those that regularly read this blog know I'm not great at writing, but I don't even have the words for this. $2 for a bag of popcorn. That's ridiculous. Now, the bag was slightly bigger than most bags of popcorn I've gotten at high school sporing events but it's not like I was carrying around the oversized plastic bag of popcorn you get at state fairs either. We're maybe talking 1-1.5 extra scoop-fulls that could fit in this bag. And it's not like a guy needs extra popcorn. You go to a high school event and there is a quota on how much popcorn you want to eat in one setting anyways. You can't really save the extras for the second half because it's cold by then.
Anyways, back to the actual basketball game. As shocked as I was to be holding a $2 bag of popcorn in my hands, Coach Stonewall brought me back to sanity when I entered the gym with his suit game. You know once the tournaments roll around Coach Stonewall is going to be wearing a strong suit and tie combo and last night did not disappoint. The transition from the regular polo or shirt/tie combo to a suit is just a little extra sign to his team that says "Hey, it's tournament time. Everybody step their game up one extra notch. Make things a little stronger, a little crisper. Not that we haven't been looking good all season, but do your part to sharpen everything up during this time of year." Looking dapper DS.
The first half saw a lot of lead changes as the girls were battling to advance in the tournament. I loved to see WCV in a man to man defense, I just don't think you see that enough in girls basketball these days. I also loved Coach Porter's midgame adjustment for Ogden to get them out of their full court press. I'm not sure if Ogden always presses all game but Coach Porter went away from that press around the midway part of the 2nd quarter I think and it worked out great. WCV was getting some good looks once they beat the press and got some easy buckets. Dropping out of the press allowed his team to really set themselves up in their 2-3 zone a little better and make life a little more challenging for the Wildcats on the offensive end. That helped Ogden take a 3 point lead into halftime I believe.
With the help of a couple West Virginia-esque banked in three pointers, Ogden stretched their lead in the 3rd quarter. But you knew a Drew Stonewall coached team was not going to back down and call it a season. Phil Jackson preached the Triangle Offense. Bo Ryan preached the Swing Offense. Drew Stonewall preaches Grit. Never quit and never quit getting better. You could tell the ladies from West Central Valley bought in to that because they refused to let adversity stop them last night. Even when the ball wasn't going in the hole from the outside, the Wildcats kept working to find ways to score. Through steals into layups, 2nd chance points, and pounding the ball down to the block West Central Valley was able to cut the Ogden lead to a single possession in the last two minutes of the game.
Down two with under 90 seconds and the ball, WCV was unable to score to tie the game and that allowed Ogden to almost ice the game at the free throw line. But they didn't ice the game in the traditional manner. The Bulldogs showed their own grit by chasing down no less than 3 offensive rebounds off free throws in the final 90 seconds. Those extra possessions allowed them to bleed the clock down and shorten the game. A late double dribble call against the Bulldogs would give the Wildcats one last chance however. Down 2 with 5 seconds left to play, West Central Valley gets a sideline out of bounds play with a chance to tie. Ogden really pressured the inbounds pass though and caused the turnover. A free throw and another offensive rebound off the free throw made the final score Ogden 51, WCV 48. Ogden moves on to a Valentine's Day matchup against Interstate I-35. A great high school basketball game.
A long first topic in the Three Count so these next two will be quick. I wanted to add this in the game recap section above but thought they probably just deserved their own section. I wanted to give my compliments to whoever the two girls behind West Central Valley's bench were last night. I loved watching their energy and enthusiasm during the game. I am not sure who they were...whether they were middle school managers with the team or just two girls excited to help the team out...but they were excited and engaged in the game all night. Made baskets they were clapping and following the game for all 32 minutes. What really impressed me was that they had their own choreographed cheer for when WCV was shooting free throws. They'd start in like an extended dabbing pose with spirit fingers at the end and then would do a spin or twirls together once the free throw went in.
It was awesome. Just great to see young fans take an interest in the older high school team. You just know those girls are going to contribute to the West Central Valley basketball team in some way in the future. Just one of those things that reminds you why you love small town schools and communities. I'm sure those types of things happen in larger schools as well but it just screamed small school high school sports when I saw those girls looking up to their older girls. Props to those two girls, whoever they were.
Again, long on the first topic today so just my picks for the Elimination Chamber tonight, no analysis. May post something later on the site with a full preview.
Curt Hawkins vs. Mojo Rawley
Winner: Mojo Rawley
Apollo Crews and Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
Winner: Mickie James
SmackDown Tag Team Championship
American Alpha vs. The Usos vs. Slater/Rhyno vs. The Ascension vs. The Vaudevillains vs. Breezango
Winner: The Usos
Natalya vs. Nikki Bella
Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton
Winner: Randy Orton
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi
Winner: Alexa Bliss
John Cena vs. AJ Styles vs. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin vs. Bray Wyatt
Winner: John Cena