Wednesday, February 15, 2012

PAC-10 Championship : Am I watching the movie Hoosiers?

   It's game time. Set the scene. Spring Ford is taking on Methacton in the PAC-10 boys basketball championship. All of the school age fans from both teams are dressed in white taking up half of the gymnasium bleachers. Standing as one, they chant and cheer and laughingly jeer each other. And as if choreographed, a signal is given and the Warrior fans strip off their white shirts revealing a black one underneath.  Now, they are archrivals waving the shirts like terrible towels. The game hasn't even started.
Methacton fans support their team.
  Roll film and ... Action! From the opening tap, the game was in high speed. Up and down the court racing from end to end. Methacton takes a small lead, Spring Ford fights their way back. Spring Ford goes up, Methacton makes a run and evens the score. One drains a three-pointer the other counters. Back and forth to the point of fatigue. The game was filled with precision shooting and well played defense. The pulse rate of the fans is one heartbeat from a coronary.
Brendan Casper shoots game winner.
   And it all came down to one shot in the final nineteen seconds. I thought to myself, 'Am I watching the movie Hoosiers where Hickory High's ficticious star player Jimmy Chitwood is passed the ball and dribbles around looking for the last second desperation shot?' Methacton's go-to guy Brendan Casper receives the inbound pass and begins to make his move. They are down by one. He had missed a foul shot that could have tied the game just seconds before.
   Man, I'm having fun. After a long season with blow outs and average games this one is up there with the best. I have plenty of shots already to choose from, but I need to capture that moment where someone makes the game winner. It's the money shot. I'm as focused on what's going on just as the players on the court. The screaming is now muffled in my ears as I seem to be on autopilot with the camera. I try to remain calm watching things develop as seconds tick off the clock.
Methacton's Casper and Dinan celebrate.
   Casper is out near the top of the key but all I can see is the top of his head as players defend around him. Everyone knows that the last shot will be taken by him. All the weight of that playoff game is on his back. Come on where is he, where is he, I say to myself. The final play seems as if in slow motion and the bodies cluttering the court in front of me fade to the side. With just over ten seconds to go I can finally see him clearly. Casper takes a step, raises up and launches a jumper from just left of the foul line with Spring Ford's Ryan Keefe waving a hand in front of his face. I fire the shutter and freeze the moment in time and then watch the ball arc toward the goal. Swish. The shot is good and Methacton is up by one. The crowd goes wild, I can hear the deafening screams again. I continue to follow the players with the camera trained on the celebrating as Spring-Ford calls time out.
Methacton Warriors are the 2012 PAC-10 Boys Basketball team champions.
   Hard-charging Pat Dinan runs toward center court arms waving as Casper lets out what looks like a roar as he heads to the bench. Another key moment. I look at the viewer on the back of the camera and the reaction photo is clear and I know this is the lead shot for The Mercury sports page and the web.
   One last chance for Spring-Ford in the waning moments and the shot falls short. Methacton wins 58-57. The fans are delirious spilling out onto the floor in one massive hug. The Spring Ford team and fans are quietly dejected in defeat. I hate to see either team lose in such a hard fought game, but tonight, the Warriors prevailed.
   I hope that once the players are in the locker room after the game, all the wild emotions calm and with the team huddled together one of them utters those wonderful words, 'I love you guys.'

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