Our basketball season is over but I have still have all my players together every morning for the first period of the day. Our games ended in the latter part of January and we had a good season in many ways even though we lost more game than we won. We play an 8th grade schedule but we weren't quite an 8th grade team ourselves. Of the ten young ladies who suited up for the games, two are 8th graders, seven are 7th graders, and one is in 6th so we were at an age disadvantage somewhat. I should add that in addition to the ten, we have four more young ladies who are part of the team but who do not play in the games. (All are sixth graders- two have conflicts with volleyball and two are on our cheer squad.) We do some different stuff in the Spring. We play full court almost every day. We also have contests and mini tournaments and we chart progress, especially in shooting. I also let the kids ref and give each a chance to plan a practice which some decline. They find my job isn't as easy as it looks!
One tradition we have among many is that each girl fills out an NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket every March. The player with the most points in our scoring system wins a $10 Starbucks gift card. It's an easy system. You get a point for each game you pick correctly in the first round, two in the second, and so on. If you correctly select the national champions, six points are added to your total. (One player, who will remain nameless, tallied only five points which is almost statistically impossibly bad!) I assumed that one of the older girls would take home the gift card. In my mind, Sydney, who won last last year, was the favorite but there are others who follow college hoops including one, Kendall, whose grandfather played on the last undefeated NCAA champions, the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. She was pretty juiced about Kentucky getting beat!
That brings me to Dahlia. When all was said and done after last evening's thrilling Duke victory over Wisconsin and all the adding up on the brackets was completed for another year, Dahlia won in a blowout, setting an all-time Lady Wildcat record of 85 points! Her nearest competitor was thirteen points in the dust. She picked three of the four Final Four contestants and the ultimate champion, the Duke Blue Devils. Here's the amazing thing about Dahlia an absolutely amazing young lady. She is one the sixth grade cheerleaders I spoke of and by her own admission, she knows next to nothing about basketball. She worked hard this year and continues to do so but has never played in a game. I asked her this morning in front of her teammates to name a Duke player- no idea. Next, I asked, "Well, do you know Duke's nickname?" No clue although she was pretty sure their uniforms were blue. And yet, she destroyed almost everyone I know in terms of her bracket, including guys who do it for a living! I am certain I could have taken her bracket, which we had to show her how to fill out, to Las Vegas and made a killing!
What to make of Dahlia's sterling prognostications? Maybe you could say beginner's luck. Maybe it's more along the line of many people simply overthinking everything or making it too complicated. Former NBA player and coach Scott Skiles once remarked that, "Basketball is like church. Many attend but not too many understand." Maybe he was right on both ends. Dahlia apparently has a grip on the basketball side. I hope she's not after my job! Although many of the parables of Jesus seem very simple to us today, The Master Himself taught there would be a dearth of understanding by His listeners to these simple stories. Maybe I can make a tie in between the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the NCAA tournament. I'll get back to you. I have to run it by Dahlia!
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