Thursday, March 1, 2012
Two Games, Two Towns, Again, Game 2...
Well, after finishing and posting the Jim Ned slideshow literally minutes before the start of the Wylie game, it was time for the start of game 2. Wylie was playing Kennedale in a rematch of last year's region I-3A championship game. Wylie was ranked #1 in the state and Kennedale #2. I'd already seen Kennedale beat Wylie's district mate, Brownood a week earlier, and the time that I was there Kennedale looked a lot faster than I had remembered them the year before. I wasn't real sure Wylie was going to be making another trip to Austin, one thing I was pretty sure of, though, was whoever won this game was most-likely going to win its next two games the following week in Austin. This game might have been called the regional championship game, but these were the best two teams in the state. Last year this was the state championship game, and it's going to be the same thing this year.
After watching Peyton Little play the worst game of the year the night before, I just had a gut feeling she was going to go nuts in this game. And honestly, the only way Wylie was going to win this game is if she had a big night. She did exactly that, a lot like what she did in the state championship game last year, Little put the team on her back and
I don't want to take anything away from the rest of the team, Wylie has some very good high school basketball players, but Little is hands-down the best girls basketball player I've ever seen play the game. For someone who is six-feet tall she handles the ball as good as anyone I've ever seen, and finishes plays and draws contact as well. She's a very good shooter who can make a shot from anywhere on the court, she may not be the best shooter I've ever seen, but when the game is on the line, she's money. And that's exactly what she did against Kennedale.
For the most part of the year, I had been conscious about how many photos of Little we ran. Yes, she is the best player on the team, but there are others on the team. She got plenty of play in our slideshows, but for print I made sure that we ran photos of all the girls on the team. Tonight though, I kind of knew if they were winning the game Little would play big.
In the first quarter Kennedale looked way too athletic for Wylie, they totally controlled the boards, getting 2-3 shots every time they went down the floor, Wylie could barely get a rebound on either end of the floor. Fouls were playing heavy into the game early, one of Wylie's better defensive players picked up a couple of quick fouls early and spent most of the first half on the bench, however, Kennedale's best shooter also got into foul trouble pretty quick and also watched a lot of the game from the sidelines. Normally, I bitch a lot about refs who spent a lot of time with their whistles, but I thought this game was really called well, both teams were just playing really physical and there were a lot of calls that could have been made on both sides that weren't.
Kennedale controlled most of the first half, but Wylie ended up going in at halftime with the scored tied at 25-25. With Little leading the way in scoring. In the third quarter though, was when things changed for Wylie. It was like they came out of the locker rooms on a mission. Led by their start, it was almost like watching Peyton put the team on her back and taking over the game. It wasn't just the scoring, though she finished the game with 41 of Wylie's 63 points. But, she was also taking the ball down the court, breaking Kennedale's press and making some great passes to teammates for open shots since she was taking double-teams most of the night. In addition to her great scoring performance she added eight rebounds and four assists, it was just a great performance to watch.
One of the biggest reasons I love about covering girls sports is the raw emotion of the players. And there was no shortage of emotion in this game. As close as this game was and as physical as it was, it was obvious by the fourth quarter the only thing keeping these girls going was pure adrenaline. And it was flowing through not only just the players on the court, but the bench too, the game was a lot if fun to shoot. I do have to say, while I was there to cover Wylie, Kenndale has no reason to hang their heads, they have a great young team and some really great players. I'm going to go ahead and say, with the graduation of Peyton Little, Kennedale should the the favorite to win the Class 3A state title next year. This was a great game between two really great teams, it's too bad this game couldn't be the state championship game, I just can't see how there could be a better team in Class 3A than these two teams. I guess I'll find out soon.