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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: 12/4/05

Game Recap: Girmindl Tournament Final vs. CBA, 12/4/05: This was a big daddy of an early season game if there ever was one. And boy did it deliver. I can honestly say that I've been to exactly 3 Shaker games in my life - the 1991 Suburban Council championship against Shen and the 1991 postseason games against CBA and Columbia - that matched the intesity of the crowd as this clock ran down on this sucker. Simply the best early season basketball game I've ever seen.

Coming in, this looked like a matchup on paper that was a toss up. The Brothers were the defending section 2 champs, but had lost Joe Bova to graduation and were probably still trying to get their feet without him, if not actually somewhat less of a powerhouse. Led by 6'7" Greg Holle, 6'4" Luke Weaver, and silky smooth two-guard John Cahill, CBA was clearly still a force. The battle between Sheehan and Holle would mostly likely determine the winner. As it turned out, their matchup was a thrilling encounter with many highlight-reel moments, but ultimately probably a wash in terms of the effect on the game. That is, until the last play.

Anyway, the game was a war right from the beginning. We arrived around 7:45 for the 8:00 tip and got treated to a thrilling consolation game finish, as Bethlehem nailed a three to force overtime before succumbing to Amsterdam in the extra session. After warmups, Shaker started Sheehan, McLoughlin, Duclos, E. Cross, and Hans, but failed to win the tip as Holle outjumped Brad. The first quarter was notable for a strange double foul on McLoughlin and a CBA defender that nullified a Shaker basket. The teams largely traded trips, with Holle imposing himself inside and making short-range jumpers while Shaker countered with some inside baskets from Sheehan and McLoughlin and some jumpers from Hans. At the end of the quarter it was 14-11 CBA, but you really felt like Shaker was the better team and simply losing do to miscues and some rim-outs.

The most notable thing at this point was the crowd. It wasn't packed in the gym, but it was close. The student section was full, as was the Shaker adult section. The CBA student section was probably 2/3 full and the other section was maybe 1/3 full. It was loud, and the two student sections were not afraid to get into it. As I've detailed before, there is a direct correlation between the quality of a high school basketball team and the obnoxiousness of the student section cheers. Saturday night was no exception: two good teams going at it tends to produce some quality smack: probably the best of the night was Shaker's student section getting into a "What-is-th-is?" cheer while doing the funny "hand jive" motion that CBA uses during it's standard "C-B-A" cheer. Nice work.

Anyway, the game continued on at a breakneck pace. The second quarter featured the beginning of what was the most memorable set of events from the game: some vicious blocks by Sheehan. I stopped counting, but he must have had 10 swats during the game, and a few of them were dandies: on one fast break, it looked like Holle was going to go up for a tomahawk jam, but Brad pounded the ball right out of his hand and off the backboard. Simply fantastic. Some people think a dunk gets the crowd going the most, but blocking a dunk probably takes it a notch higher. Have you ever heard a student section start a taunting cheer when their team was losing? The Shaker students pulled it off convincingly Saturday night after one of Brad's blocks. CBA countered with a "Scoooore-booooard" cheer, only to be followed by a "We-can't-hear-you" cheer from Shaker. Good times.

At the half the score was 23-19, and I felt more than ever that Shaker might not win the game but that they could contend with CBA this season. The third quarter is mostly a blur to me, I don't recall specific action, except for one inspiring dunk by Brad. CBA won the quarter by 4 to take a 38-30 lead into the 4th.

The 4th quarter was simply spectactular. Every basketball game has a moment when it looks like it's slipping away for one of the teams, and that moment cam for Shaker with about 5 and 1/2 minutes to play. CBA was up 7, had the ball, and looked to be in control. But Shaker stormed back on baskets by McLoughlin (2) and Sheehan and then two foul shots (I can't remember who) to take their first lead of the half. Then a seeming dagger struck: with about 2 minutes to go and up 1, Shaker played solid defense and CBA missed a shot in the lane. As everyone scrambled for the board, the ball bounced off the ground, up off the backboard, and into the hoop. Explosions in the CBA student section. And a 1 point lead for the brothers. If Shaker lost the game, that basket would have killed me for a month.

After trading baskets over the next minute, CBA had the ball, up one, with about 40 seconds to go. De-fense.! De-fense! The gym was loud. And CBA puts up a shot. Missed, rebound Sheehan. Outlet to Hans. Dribbles up court. 25 seconds to play. Shot clock off. And Shaker looks totally disoriented, like they aren't sure what to do. Hans is dribbling in the backcourt, but no one is moving on offense and no one seems sure of what to do. SJC leans over to me and screams, 'they better call timeout!' On the bench, Holmes is screaming the same thing. Finally, finally, they get a timeout with 18 seconds to go. Really tense moment.

The inbound is from the sideline close to the Shaker bench. Timeout CBA. Geez. Ok, back to the action. Inbound from the side near the Shaker bench. They get the ball in, but it looks like they obviously wanted to get it straight in to Brad, but instead have to settle for the backcourt. Not good. Another timeout. Now there are 9 seconds left. Same inbounds location. This time they do get it into Brad, at the top of the post, close to the bench. And this is where time shifts into slow motion for all the fans. Here's my thought process from 9 seconds left until 4 seconds left:

Good, Brad's got it. Come on, just get to the line at least, buddy. Ok, careful with that dribble, c'mon make your move. Yeah, take it to the rack. Oh god, he's going to spin in the lane. Yeah, he's got himself free. He's up, that's only a 9-10 footer. C'mon. Oh god, don't lose like this, no brick, please.. Looks good coming out of his hand, yup, good rotation, that might go in. YEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!

The celebration began on the court, despite the 4 seconds remaining. It didn't matter. CBA called timeout and got a desperation heave, but it was never even close. Shaker wins. Just an unbelievable game. The news tries to interview Brad on the court after the game, but too many students are surrounding him and jumping up and down and screaming. A storybook ending.

Then Brad and John are named to the all-tournament team, Brad as MVP. And we go home knowing Shaker is a real contender for the sectional championship this year.

Final Score: Shaker 46, CBA 45. Box score here. Shaker moves to 2-0, 0-0 in the suburban.

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