|Champs with vanquished team in background|
On Sunday Stuey's Little Dribblers Basketball team won the league championship. Just 2 weeks ago this seemed like an impossibility. And while driving back from the game I realized that Stuey's team has an amazing number of similarities with the Bad News Bears - another team that went from nowhere to the top.
Zoya's business A Balanced Approach (ABA) sponsored Stuey's team, and the coach is the father of one of Stuey's classmates at St Mary's. All the other teams in the league seemed far more well established. Banks, fishing vessels, and storage companies sponsored the other teams.
And for the first couple of games A Balanced Approach had it bad - Really, Really Bad.
In the early game I went to they lost 24 to 2 and we had to console Stuey after the blowout. Stuey only came close to making one basket when he drove and shot at his own basket by mistake. ABA players would stand there and let passes fly right by them out of bounds. The other team scored at will as ABA players failed to cover anyone.
And then, just like with the 'Bad News Bears' the team got their mojo - thanks to a little bit of coaching (make that a lot!) and the return of a star player who had been on vacation. The return of the star player, who also played in the older Little Dribblers league, revitalized the team. They actually won a few games and gained some confidence. And with confidence and coaching came a clamp-down, smothering defense.
In the tournament they did not let the other teams score or even shoot. Hands in the face and lots of fouls. In the semi finals they played the best team in the tournament (ABA was the only team to ever beat them) to a scoreless first quarter, and then lost by one on a technical free throw in the final minute of the game. By then Stuey had fouled out.
Still they got their second chance when they won the 'loser's bracket' and got to re play the 'best team' in the finals. It was a nail biting defensive struggle. ABA got the only basket in the first quarter and it was only 7-6 ABA at the half. The other team was frustrated by the smothering defense and could not seem to hit any of their free throws. In the penultimate minute ABA built a 4 point lead. But both Stuey and another player fouled out - hey that's what happens when you are aggressive on defense - And the final minute and a half was agony for supporters of ABA in the stands.
And then the final buzzer sounded and Stuey and his teammates were champs!