While the holidays brought a break from school and homework, we did not miss a beat. It is the middle of the season and games played in Christmas tournaments are set up to challenge a team.
Our first test came against Lawrence County Monday night. Coincidentally they were one of the few that beat us last season and we were looking to settle the score. Although we did not come out playing at our highest level, we rebounded well in the second half. There is always something different about game-days when they are played over a break. Retaining concentration all the way up until tip-off can be the biggest challenge. By halftime we regained our composure and were able to finish off Lawrence County to improve our record to 10-2.
The next night was one in which I had personally been looking forward to since I spotted the opponent on our schedule. The Columbia Lions! What more should I say? We knew Columbia was indeed going to be a tough opponent. It's always fun to play Columbia because it's usually a close and crazy game.
We needed no pep talk. Energy filled the locker room and flowed out onto the court. They immediately jumped on us, pitting us with a deficit early. After a couple of minutes passed in the second quarter, we made a run and put ourselves back in the game and gained the momentum going into halftime. The third quarter and fourth quarter saw continuous fighting by both teams. As the clock wound down in the fourth, we lost steam and couldn't mount another run. We hung our heads afterwards, but luckily we had Christmas to look forward to, easing the loss a bit more.
Friday we were pitted against a quick and versatile 3A team in Kenwood. They played much like we did, fast, run-and-gun, and lots of three pointers. Although they were much faster than us, we set the tone early and took a staggering lead. They were never able to recover, and we were able to win our first game of 2009.
Now I am brought to the dreaded game of Greenbrier.
The game was hard-fought and remained close throughout the game, but we were able to match each of their scores and continued to retain the lead. The game was not decided until the last minutes wound down, but we closed out our Christmas break with another win.
During the fourth period, Blaise Spencer stood his ground as an opponent leaped into the air for a lay-up. In the process, his knee crashed into Blaise's collarbone. He was helped off the court and all we could do was hope for the best as we patted him on the back. After the game ended, we were notified that Blaise was taken to Vanderbilt for x-rays and his collarbone was broken. Unfortunately, he will be out for the next 4-6 weeks.
Blaise is a great friend of mine on and off the court. I truly believe he has no enemies other than his defenders. I called him that night to see how he was and the first thing he asked me was how the game ended. Stunned, I answered him and asked if it hurt. He gave me this answer: "It didn't hurt as bad as knowing I won't be playing for a while." It is so unfortunate to lose a player like Blaise. But if he does his part and has a speedy recovery, the team will do our part and make sure he has not played his last game as a Marshall County Tiger.