Finally, it was game day. It was a typically Chicago-like overcast early
December day, where the winds could really bite if you weren't dressed for
it. There also seemed to be an uneasy tension in the air at Montcalm, as
if something bad was going to happen that night. Scott felt it just as
strongly as anyone, as it took him longer than usual to get into his
rhythm during practices that week. Over at Baldwin, tensions were
different, almost like an ammunition dump seconds away from an explosion.
Quite a few Baldwin supporters planned to make the trip over to Montcalm's
brand new gymnasium, which could hold about 4500 spectators.
Scott arrived early to the ballgame on that Wednesday, as was his custom. He noticed the stands slowly filling up, and his teammates taking shots, or stretching. There were also several TV cameramen circulating around the court. The Baldwin-Montcalm rivalry was big enough that local cable companies paid to broadcast the contests over their public access channels, a welcome alternative to the endless screens of public announcements on bright red and blue screens. WGN from Chicago had also dispatched a crew to Montcalm, intending to film a feature story on how Illinois has a deeper tradition of high school basketball than its neighbor, the equally basketball-crazed state of Indiana. Neither of the television crews ever expected to capture what ended up happening later that night.
An uneventful shootaround happened, followed by the usual "rah rah, let's go beat those guys" locker room pep talks for both teams. The building was almost completely sold out, to the delight of Montcalm. Just think of the extra income, people! And more than one person noticed that the crowd was as close as can be to being evenly divided, and they were pretty damned rowdy when the teams were announced. Scott quietly said a prayer during the national anthem, hoping things didn't get too out of control.
The first two quarters were as highly competitive as can be, with only one or two minor scuffles breaking out underneath the basket. With just a few seconds left in the first half, Montcalm was behind by two points. Guard Eddie Webber passed the ball to Scott, who sank a memorable three point shot to put Montcalm ahead by a point just as the buzzer went off.
"SCOTT ALAN CHIIIILDEERRRSS!!" boomed the announcer as the Montcalm side of the gym went wild. The marching bands began to play as both teams retreat to their locker rooms. Scott swore he saw a fistfight in the stands out of the corner of his eye before he disappeared into the locker room, still being congratulated by his excited teammates. "Forget it!", he thought to himself. It's just a coincidence.
Just a few minutes before the half ended, a group of eighteen Baldwin Academy students showed up late, claiming that they had "gotten lost, then held up by a car accident, and then three trains!" They were permitted to enter the game just as Scott had scored his big three-pointer. Undaunted, they stood in a group by the Baldwin side of the gym, just outside the doorway.
The crowd still rocked with excitement.
12/17/2007 10:25:19 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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