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Girmindl's Ghost

A diary of Shaker High School's 2005-2006 basketball season, a retelling of Shaker's fabled 1979-1980 season, and general commentary on high school hoops, updated daily...


"I like sitting in the back row. I found that sitting against the wall is just easier on your back." -Dean Smith, on the comfort of the H-gym bleachers

Game Recap 12/13/05

Game Recap: Home vs. Columbia, 12/13/05

Executive Summary: With Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt watching from the bleachers, Shaker put on an absolute offensive clinic on the topic of "how to execute with a great center." Brad scored 28 on some fine shooting and tough play, and more importantly they found the open man when he got doubled and triple-teamed - Brian Hooks was 5 for 6 from 3-point land, mostly on wide open looks coming off good ball movement. An outstanding team effort. The only reason they didn't win by 30 was because Columbia's Alex Zampier put on his own clinic - "how to keep your team in the game when you're the only really good player and you can't miss from 3" - and scored 41 points, including nine 3's. An astonishing display of shooting, one the best I've ever seen in section 2 hoops. Final score: Shaker 72, Columbia 63. TU box score here. Shaker moves to 4-0 (2-0 Suburban Council). Next game: Friday night at Shen.

Full Report, Can you Hew-itt? I still can't Zamp-ier you!: Got to Shaker around 6:40 last night and conducted a short interview with two of the leaders of "Shaker's 6th man," the group that is very effectively leading the student cheering section this year. I'll publish the interview tomorrow. Walked down to the gym around 7:15 and headed up into the bleachers as the JV game ended. Lo and behold, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt was sitting in my usual seat, surrounded by the Sheehan family. Most people would think that's pretty cool (and I definitely did), but it also was errie as hell if you are knowledgable about Shaker's 1979-80 seasion: it was 26 years ago today that Shaker played a home game and a famed ACC coach sat in the bleachers to watch his prize big man recruit (full story below). I immediately figured that history would repeat itself and Brad would drop 39 or so on Columbia. A good omen indeed.

As the players came out to warm up, I surveyed the scene. Not a bad crowd for a Tuesday game. The Shaker adult section is 3/4 full, the student section is 3/4 full, the adult Columbia section is 1/2 full, and what's this - Columbia has brought it's own rowdy crowd of cheering students (about 25 of them) to take on the Shaker student section. And they're sitting (standing) in the section next to the Shaker student section. And they're already chanting, giving Brad the "Over-rated!" treatment during warmups. This should be fun. Columiba - the team that is - has one very feared player, Yale-bound guard Alex Zampier, who averaged 21.3 points/game last year and can allegedly knock down 3's all day from the cheap seats. His supporting cast is not reported to be all that much, and I settle in to my seat confident that Shaker will out-talent this team so long as Zampier doesn't go uber-crazy.

1st Quarter

Turns out I was almost right. Shaker did ultimately out-talent Columbia, but it was despite the fact that Zampier went uber-uber-crazy. And right from the get go. Brad won the opening tip, but a quick turnover gave Columbia the ball. Zampier nails a 16 footer. 2-0. Shaker has a good posession but misses. Columiba scores. 4-0. Brad to the rack twice and it's 4-4 with 5 minutes to go in the quarter. Zampier for 3, it's good. Was he 4 feet behind the line? Yikes. Shaker gets one back on a foul shot by Brad. Zampier for 3, it's good. Ok, he was definitely several feet behind the line on that one. Double-yikes. The score is now Zampier 8, Brad 5, Columbia 2, Shaker 0. Shaker misses. Zampier for 3, it's good. And the Columbia crowd goes absolutely bonkers - I mean, completely nuts - like Brad-just-put-away-CBA nuts. This is bad. This is very bad. But he can't stay this hot forever, right? And it's clear that Shaker has the better team. Tom Duclos hits a runner and Columbia grabs a hoop and it's 15-7 Columbia at the quarter. Did I mention that both referees are under five feet tall? Brad is talking to one of them and he looks like Willy Wonka talking to an oompa-loompa. Now I want you to take Mr. Zampier down to the caramel room and make sure he gets a stomach-ache from eating too much. He-he.

2nd Quarter

Finally - finally - Zampier settles down a bit and Shaker takes over. They won the 2nd quarter 21-12, and I thought they played outstanding on offense. The ball movement was better than I had seen to date. Hans, Cross, Duclos, Griff, Brad. Everyone is clicking. As I mentioned yesterday, I was looking for Brad to get more touches, and he certainly did tonight. They got it inside to him virtually every trip in the 2nd quarter, and he either took it to the hoop himself or started some good ball movement that led to an open shot. As much as Brad and Zampier dominated this game, I really thought tonight was a coming-out party for Brain Hooks. He got three open looks in the 2nd quarter and nailed all of them, 2 of them 3-pointers. In fact, it was Hooks' three-balls that helped to soften the Zampier blow: when some kid shoots 9 for 14 from three it's not quite as bad if you have a kid who shoots 5 for 6 from three. And that's what happened. This was the Shaker offense firing on all cylinders: Brad had 16 at the half, Hooks had 8, and Duclos had 4. Hans was making good decisions. Everyone was moving the ball crisply. Would we prefer a bit more balance to the scoring? Sure. But the way they were getting the points - a true inside-out offense - was definitely a job well done. And if the 3's are going to drop like that, it opens up Brad that much more.

The only downside was the turnovers, which were reduced from last week but are still a problem. They were definitely less sloppy than in the Guilderland game, but they are still giving away too many cheap ones. And I don't know what to say about the defense. It's tough to guard Zampier if he's going to shoot 60% from 23+ feet. At least they were shutting down the rest of Columbia and all of its inside game. Brad had 3 blocks in the first half and 2 phantom blocks, including one where a Columbia player airballed a layup. That's intimidation. Just before the half, students came over to sell Coach Hewitt a 50/50 ticket, while the student section chanted "Make him buy one!" Good times. The score at halftime was 28-27, but you really had the feeling that Shaker was going to pull away in the second half. I headed out in the hallway to get on line for a Twix.

3rd Quarter

The action really picked up in the 3rd quarter. And by action I mean the cheers in the student section. Both sections are really going at each other now, and it built to a nice crescendo in the 4th quarter. Shaker has already tried out "Boink" a few times, and Columbia is now experimenting with some funk-rap singing. Nice. And they are engaging each other with more and more derogatory chants. Testing the limits a bit. On the court, the 3rd quarter played even - Shaker won 15-14 - but it felt like Shaker was in control of the game. Columbia has no answer to Brad, Hooks made another 3, and Griff battled for some tough rebounds and putback points. That kid is just total intensity. The size is really getting to Columbia now - on several missed foul shots, Shaker gets tough rebounds from Griff, Cross, and Brad, and either puts them in or gets back to the line. The turnovers are still troublesome, but so are some absolutely rediculous calls by the refs. Griffin gets called for an offensive foul away from the ball that is literally a phantom foul - I never saw him touch anyone. He's lucky not to get a technical as he politely protests to the ref, but what a dumb call. Shaker keeps taking a 4 point lead, but can't seem to get that 7-0 run that will put some distance on Columbia. Zampier drops 2 more 3's and we head to the 4th with a 43-41 Shaker lead. It might have been 46-41, but a 60-foot heave at the buzzer (by Schaller I think) that falls in is discounted, with the expected moans of the crowd (it was definitely a good call - definitely too late - but it was also an amzing shot.)

4th Quarter

Shaker absolutely explodes in the 4th quarter. But so does Zampier. Brad puts on a few great moves in the post, the Cross brothers come alive, drawing fouls and making shots, and Hooks knocks down two more 3-pointers. With about 4.5 minutes left, Vernon Cross steals the ball and goes the length of the court for a breakaway jam, giving Shaker a 10 point lead and sending the crowd into a frenzy. The students waste no time. "Why'd you come here??!" When the Columbia students respond, Shaker moves into "Score-board, Score-board," and then collectively sit down and start the old "You're not worth it!" But it's a telling sign that they didn't move into the standard "game is over" cheers, because a 10-point lead is nothing to Alex Zampier, who calmy responds by knocking down a three. Luckily, Shaker made their foul shots down the stretch. Columbia began to foul with 1:51 left, and they managed to use 3-pointers from Zampier to cut the lead to as little as 6, even though Shaker was making 1 every time and often 2. But they never got closer than that, and the ballhandling and foul shooting by Hans and E. Cross was excellent down the stretch. With 26 seconds left, the students broke into "The wheels on the bus," and the game is unofficially over. The TV cameras head into to the student section - leading to a "We're on T-V" chant - and then they interview Brad at the foul line as I walk out the door. 72-63. 41 for Zampier, 28 for Brad, 17 for hooks. 4-0 for Shaker. Hoo-wah!

Summary and notes

A well-fought victory...Anytime an opposing player drops 41 on you and you still win by 9, it's a good job...The regular rotation tonight included Steve Schaller, the first I've seen him play, and he looked good...No sign of John Weinhemier tonight, though...This was definitely a game to build on - all aspects of the team looked improved to me, and they take some good momentum heading into Friday night.

Final score: Shaker 72, Columbia 63. TU box score here. Shaker improves to 4-0 and 2-0 in the Suburban Council.

Next Game: Friday night at Shen.
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