It's not often I get to take a day off during the week. But with the big Tom and Becky Invitational swim meet this weekend, I was afforded a rare day off during the week. So, what to do with my free time? Well, what does any sports guy do, he goes to a game. That's exactly what I did.
I try to visit the college I graduated from, Blackburn College, and attend one basketball game a year. But my calendar and the weather hadn't been cooperating, so with the season nearing its end, I still hadn't made it yet this year. Then I get a rare day off and my college just happened to be playing at home, SCORE! So I drove two and half hours to Carlinville, Ill., for the game.
But I can't go to a game as just a fan anymore. I have to be involved. So I took my old seat at the scorers table and was the official book for both the men's and women's games.
Blackburn has not had a great year this season. The women were 4-14 entering play while the men were 1-17.
The women started off hot, building up a 15 point lead going into halftime. After choking it away in the second half, the Lady Beavers trailed by three. But they battled back and got the win, edging MacMurray 67-63. The win was the Lady Beavers' fifth of the season and they completed the home and away season sweep over MacMurray. It was the first time I had seen the women's team win since their current head coach, Jen Windmiller, took over three season ago.
The men weren't as lucky.
The Beavers played great in the first half, at one point building up a 24-16 lead, but it didn't last. MacMurray, sitting in first place in the Saint Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, came roaring back to take a 37-30 lead at the break. Blackburn played tough though and never gave up.
With 3:05 left in the game, the Beavers trailed by just five points, 72-67. However, with time winding down, Blackburn was forced to foul to stop the clock and MacMurray was able to pull away by hitting its free throws, eventually winning 91-74.
As the official book, I had to keep track of fouls and timeouts as well as scoring. Three years ago, during his first year as the Beavers' head coach, Jason Baribeau was called for a techincal foul against this same opponent when his assistant coach gave him bad info regarding timeouts. Baribeau had none left in that game and called one with just seconds left on the clock and his team was down by three. They lost that game and I wrote a story about it for my former newspaper.
Earlier this week, coach tweeted me a picture of the story I wrote as it's framed and in his office. When coach got down to one and then zero timeouts left Thursday, I kept looking over at him, trying to make sure he knew. Coach never tried to go for that seventh timeout this time. After the game I joked with him about the timeouts and he said "I have better assistants now".
One of the biggest draws of this game on my day off though was the chance to see my nephew play. He is a senior in college this year, but plays for rival MacMurray.
Four years ago, in his first game (my junior year) against my school, Dylan threw down a beautiful dunk. Now, four years later, in his final game against my college, he did it again. Following the game we joked about it.
Dylan wasn't the only player I knew though. The MacMurray team had several players on its roster that I covered as high school athletes and coaches that I worked with. It was great to see them all and to talk to them and catch up as well.
As you can tell, it wasn't your typical day off. But then again, when you enjoy sports as much as I do, it's not really work either. As I get back to work here on this Friday, I have just one thing to say, Game On!