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Davis: Basketball can break your heart

POSTED: March 14, 2010 10:54 p.m.
It’s unfortunate for those who love the game of basketball that it rarely loves them back. Most careers end without a championship; some without many wins at all. Knees tear up, sometimes more than once. A good shooting night is bound to give way to a horrible one, and disappointment lurks around every screen.

Basketball’s fickle and doesn’t care how hard you work or who you are.

Former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight once said, and I’m paraphrasing, that it isn’t the opponent you’re playing against, but the game.

Friday night in the Class AAA state semifinal, Knight’s words were brought to life.

Throughout the game LaGrange was consistent: quick to close out on shooters, quick to the rebound, just quick.
Up until the fourth quarter, North Hall was also consistent.

The Trojans responded with runs for runs, defensive stops for defensive stops and momentum shifts for momentum shifts, but never could get over the hump.

They managed to keep within striking distance the entire game, allowing the Grangers to never hold a lead greater than eight points. Thoughts prevailed that if North Hall kept it up through the fourth, responding the way they had and keeping the score within one or two points, that LaGrange, which hadn’t lost all season, would fold.

However, aside from a 12-12 tie at the end of the first, the Trojans couldn’t pull ahead; nor could they even the score.

LaGrange wasn’t doing anything different offensively when North Hall pulled within two points or one. The Grangers weren’t doing anything different defensively to keep the Trojans from tying the score or taking the lead.

The game just didn’t want it to happen.

Were there untimely turnovers? Sure, but for both teams. Were poor shots taken? Absolutely, but an even amount counted and an even amount didn’t for both teams.

Coaches say all the time that an opponent simply made more plays, but when North Hall coach Benjie Wood said it after his team lost by 11, it was the truth.

North Hall had opportunities, but the game said no. The Grangers didn’t have an exorbitant amount of blocked shots — four to North Hall’s two  — and the two teams were even in the rebound column.

LaGrange simply made more shots in the fourth quarter. The Grangers were 7-of-9 from the field; the Trojans were 4-of-17.

That’s a stark contrast to the only seven-point shooting percentage differential in the first three quarters — LaGrange shot 51 percent while North Hall shot 44.

It’s easy to face a loss when you know you were beaten by a better team, regardless of the point in your career the loss comes.

What sticks in your psyche and stays is the loss to a team that wasn’t better. A loss that came simply because the game couldn’t be bested.

Katie B. Davis is a sports writer for The Times. Contact her at kdavis@gainesvilletimes.com.


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