Hoops Hysteria

Some teams start their pregame ritual with a prayer or pep talk.

I began by retching.

High school basketball in Southeast Missouri was not for the faint of heart — or stomach. It was win or else.

My teammates and I were once spanked with a wooden paddle for having the audacity to be trailing at halftime.

We were eighth-graders.

As we grew, so did the expectations. It was the town’s identity.

In the 1970s, Advance High went to four consecutive Final Fours, reaching three state title games, winning two. These guys were mythic in my eyes.

I wanted to be like them, walk like them. Most of all, I wanted to play like them.

It never happened.

By the time it was our turn, continuity established by our Hall of Fame coach, who left for two years and came back, had eroded.

Consequently, we rode home on a lot of quiet buses.

Those prized trophies have gathered considerable dust. AHS hasn’t won a state championship in more than 36 years. It takes fanatical support by parents and coaches and a community to get there.

That I never could made me sick.


2 thoughts on “Hoops Hysteria

  1. I feel your pain…

    My eight grade season I broke my foot against Bernie. When I showed up with a cast on my foot at school – Coach wanted to know if that meant I wouldn’t be practicing or playing that week. I’ll put this mildly – when I replied yes, he called me a female cat.
    My Junior year we won the Richland Invitational and beat Howardsville who would go on to take 2nd in the state finals – losing in 3 OT’s. Our season was considered a bust. We were losers.
    My Senior year was even worse. We finished 19-9 and the town folk were glad to see the season end šŸ™‚

    It’s not easy bouncing the ball for the Hornets but the memories last a lifetime. The good and the not so good…

    • Thanks for the anecdotes, Ford. It was a different time with different parental tolerance. 19 wins a bust? In four years, we had two 16-loss seasons. No wonder there’s no “Rhett Morgan Boulevard.”


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