Player Diary: The road to the championship

Thursday, Day 3

Today’s the big day. It’s finally game time! We had the early game, which was at noon. So we had to wake up super early for an 8 o’clock practice. We were not feeling that at all, but when duty calls, you have to answer!

We got to the gym about 11 o’clock for shootaround and you could feel the first-day tension in the air. We were playing Caldwell Tech, which defeated last year’s national champion in its region tournament.

The game was the best of the year. We went into the half down nine. We fought back in the second half and took a 10-point lead with two minutes left. Due to some struggles at the free-throw line, we went into overtime.

In OT it was a dog fight, and it ended with Mike “Money” Love hitting a game-winning three that had us celebrating like we had already won the tournament. Haha, it was a great moment.

After the game, we watched a little bit of the MassBay vs. Rock Valley game to see who we would play in the Final Four. MassBay won. After that, we went back to the room for naps. Everybody was tired.

At 7 we went to watch the tournament host, Sullivan County Community College play. The gym was sold out. It was a great environment. They lost the game, so we won’t get to play in such an intense environment.

After that we went back to the room, and me and my teammates made our hot wings and pizza rolls. Then we got a surprising knock on the door from room service Oscar “Tweet” Lewis’ dad, who had ordered us room service. We had wings, nachos, hamburgers, chicken fingers and chicken sandwiches. It was a blessing.

Soon after our “family dinner” we called it a night because we had a team breakfast at 7:45 and practice at 8:45.

Day 4: Friday

Today was the earliest we had to wake up on this trip. When my 7:30 alarm went off, I thought I was dreaming. I soon realized I wasn’t when Brock Hunter pulled all the covers off me and woke me up.

Breakfast was good once again. We happened to see the team we played yesterday at practice, and the tension was high. They were still angry about the loss. After breakfast we headed to the gym for our 8:30 walk-through. It was a much-needed practice to go over our opponent today, MassBay.

Then we went back to Walmart. I needed Gatorade and beef jerky. I was beginning to run low on snacks at the hotel. We headed back to the room to get off our feet, and we had a 2 o’clock film session in coach’s room.

We got to the gym at about 3:45. Gametime was at 5. If we win this game, it’s to the national championship! In the locker room we used an old pirate saying, which is “Burn the boat.” The pirates used to burn their boat when they saw another boat they were trying to hijack. Burning their boat meant that they had no choice but to go take the other crew’s boat because theirs is no longer there. It’s a kill or get killed mentality.

To sum it all up, we burned our boat and took theirs. We are playing in the national championship game tomorrow at 7. One more win and we are the national champions!

— Andrew Maxie

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