THS girls’ basketball team formidable foe for scrum
Tonganoxie High School girls' basketball coach Leslie Foster wanted some outside "athletes" to scrimmage her team before the Lawrence-Free State tournament last week.
Foster spoke to THS athletic trainer Jeremy Robbins about participating in the scrimmage.
Robbins then recruited fellow Tonganoxie alumni Ben Robbins, Jim Welsh and me. THS boys' freshmen basketball and assistant volleyball coach Brandon Parker was the scrimmage team's fifth member.
This seemed like a great opportunity to view one of the team's I cover in a practice environment.
This also appeared to be a wonderful opportunity to display my own skills. Being involved with four state tournament appearances with my alma mater's boys' basketball team (one as a pep band member and three as a spectator), I had the experience needed to scrimmage against the Chieftains.
We started the scrimmage process with half-court play. The THS varsity was always on defense against what some might call an explosive offense. Sure, I'm not versed at offensive sets, but once the ball got to me down low, my hook shot (reminiscent of former Jayhawk Clyde Lovellette) and darn-near two-inch vertical were nearly unstoppable.
The Chieftains' defense stiffened, and although Robbins, Robbins, Parker and Welsh were somewhat talented, the girls slowly improved against our offensive juggernaut.
Things were going well oxygen-wise when Foster yelled instructions.
"We're going to go full-court," she said.
"This won't be too bad," I thought to myself.
The farther distance to run wasn't too terrible for about the first two minutes, but then fatigue kicked in.
It kicked hard.
Oxygen was more difficult to obtain, walking down the court seemed more sensible, and I realized I was, in fact, out of shape.
Jeremy Robbins made cracks such as, "I think we've found the weakest link."
Unfortunately, all other unfavorable comments toward me became muddled sounds faint compared to my heavy breathing.
The game was becoming too fast-paced, and I was hoping we could use Texas-El Paso's four corners offense. We did not, but I decided I should go at a slower pace myself.
I was hoping to give more reports on my teammates' play, but I was sidetracked by lower back pain and embarrassment.
My limited assessment showed that my teammates were in better shape. All could shoot from the perimeter or inside, while I usually didn't stray three feet from the basket.
Parker, who hails from tradition-rich McPherson, seemed to be our signal-caller.
Once again, though, I didn't take too many notes.
Foster asked if anyone needed a breather. My inner voice said, "Why, yes, yes, I do."
No one else signaled for a breather, and pride, what little I had left, told me I needed to kindly decline the offer.
The scrimmage progressed, and the game became four-on-five when we were on offense, with me on the defensive end, ready to hinder home run balls thrown for any fast breaks.
As visions of me joining an athletic club and playing basketball more often were dancing through my head, I heard a voice.
"OK, thanks for coming to practice, guys," Foster said.
After grabbing my water, I retreated to one of the gymnasium's stairwells where I could grimace and recuperate in private. What talent I had wasn't showcased well, but at least I got a workout.
A score wasn't kept, but I do know that my zero points in the full-court scrimmage was a far cry from my career-best 10 points in a junior high contest.
I don't know how helpful we were in preparing THS for its tournament at Free State last week.
Some of the better teams in 5A and 6A have more talent than five OK four former standouts on our team.
Tonganoxie, though, defeated KC-Wyandotte for seventh place in the tournament and stayed with Lawrence-Free State for most of their game before losing, 52-38.
If I am to analyze the team first-hand again, it would probably be best for me to practice more extensively before stepping on the court again.
But as they say in the WNBA, "We got next."