Just wait until next year
A friend and I took the opportunity to travel down to Jobing.com Arena in Glendale on Saturday to take in a few of the Arizona Interscholastic Association's state basketball championship games. When I took my seat for the fourth quarter of the Class 5A-I girls title game between eventual winner Gilbert Highland and Phoenix Saint Mary's, I felt a pang in my heart because I wasn't watching the Kingman Lady Bulldogs on that floor.
The wish was more for these hardworking girls to be part of the excitement that rang throughout the arena than it was to win a state title. Sure, I'd love to see them win state, but the memories of competing in front of thousands of basketball fans would be something I'm sure they'd never forget.
There were more than 16,000 fans who watched the boys 3A championship game when Goodyear Estrella Foothills beat Chinle. The large crowd was due to the many fans of the Chinle Wildcats who made the drive to rally around the team's first-ever appearance in a title game. Not too bad considering there are only 5,200 people living in Chinle. It wouldn't happen, but it would be thrilling to see just 1,600 from Kingman attend the game if the Bulldogs were playing.
From the basketball standpoint, it was fun to see some quality dunks in the two boys games that I saw. Demetrius Walker of Saint Mary's and Corey Hawkins of Estrella Foothills, both of whom are supposed to be headed to ASU, threw down a couple of respectable dunks. Hawkins is the son of former NBA star Hersey Hawkins.
But, by far, it was the nephew of the late Dennis Johnson, Nick Johnson of Highland, who was most the impressive. Johnson elevated well above the rim and took care of business with a two-handed throw down.
The experience I enjoyed the most was something I could never do at a hoops game in the gym at KHS. I went to the concession stand and grabbed a hot dog, pretzel and a Coke, which I can do at KHS. However, when I returned to my seat, the security personnel in the arena didn't stop me as I neared the entrance to where my seat was located. I was stunned. Unlike at KHS, I was allowed to enjoy a hot dog and Coke while watching the game. Amazing.
I learned a lot about high school basketball on Saturday. There are communities that do care deeply about their teams, places where the athletes are put on their proper pedestals, and you can watch a game while munching on your favorite stadium food.
It was a delightful experience and one I'll take in again next year - because I'll be sitting in press row watching the Bulldogs.