A magical game, a magical season

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By James Howey
Tournament MVP Nieka Wheeler holds up a piece of the winning game net. Wheeler is currently undecided on where she will play basketball next year, but she plans on going on to Division I. Photo by Julia Larberg

Tournament MVP Nieka Wheeler
holds up a piece of the winning
game net. Wheeler is currently
undecided on where she will play
basketball next year, but she plans
on going on to Division I.
Photo by Julia Larberg


jhowey@jccc.edu


After Alexis Brown shot the ball in the waning seconds of the Cava­liers’ championship victory, I thought one thing in my mind: no way. No way that this team is going to win on a last-second buzzer-beater at home in front of a packed crowd to win a national title. That just doesn’t happen.

But of course, that did happen. A dream became a beautiful reality and the Cavs were crowned champions 66-64 over Parkland Community College.

Being able to cover this team and wit­ness this historic season is the most hon­ored I have ever been to be sports jour­nalist. The championship game was by far the best game I have ever covered in person and will be an event that will for­ever hold a special place in my heart, no matter where my career takes me.

Seeing a loud and full student section at a sporting event here is pretty much like seeing the Loch Ness Monster, so seeing so many students united in Cava­lier pride at the championship game was special, and hopefully that carries over to next season.

The game was an absolute twelve-round brawl. When one team would make a great play, the other would re­spond with a play to match. All through the game, everyone watching could see this would go right down to the wire.

Sometimes a championship game doesn’t always live up to the hype; well, this one far exceeded the hype. The game was a reminder of why people love sports.

Both teams were fighting, scratching and doing everything they could to come out on top. Being able to win a champi­onship in that fashion on your own home court is something most teams or players never get to do.

The night of the championship is truly one of those nights you wish you could relive over and over again, almost like a movie. I’ve jokingly thought a couple times in past few weeks, “So when is ESPN getting here to do interviews for the 30 for 30 about the championship game?”

This Cavalier team is the perfect ex­ample of team who grew up during the season. The squad faced suspensions, the loss of a starter midway through the year and losing two games in a row for the first time since 2010.

It became clear around mid-February this team was getting mentally tough­er and stronger. This is a credit to their coach, Ben Conrad, who preaches tough­ness day in and day out.

The championship helps validate the legacy of one of the top programs in the junior college landscape. Winning a championship takes luck, guts and a lot of hustle.

All three of those traits were shown by the Cavs in the last month of the season, and that paid off with a night that will live forever in the lore of Johnson County and this college.

 

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