Frank Workman on Sports: Shorecrest basketball pulls off one of the great upsets in school history

Monday, February 24, 2014

Scots Advance to Regionals Friday -- Face O'Dea at Mountlake Terrace

Daniel Ghebremichael, in Scots green
The score is tied in the 4th period
Photo by Geoff Vlcek
By Frank Workman

Years after he had retired, legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was asked which were harder to coach – white players or black players. 

He paused for a second before responding “Seniors”.

It’s not likely that Shorecrest basketball coach Brian Fischer would disagree with much of anything the Wizard Of Westwood ever said, but this one time might be an exception.

Friday night Fischer’s team of 8 seniors and one lone sophomore pulled off one of the great upsets in school history when they won the District One Championship Game with a 63-59 win over undefeated and #2 ranked Stanwood.

With the win, the Scots advance to a Regional game this coming Friday at 8 PM at nearby Mountlake Terrace HS. They’ll play the Fighting Irish of O’Dea from the always stout Metro Conference.

As remarkable as it was, knocking off a Stanwood team that had beaten all but two of its opponents this season by more than ten points, it was more how the Scots did it that left their fans aglow afterwards.

When you attend a game, you know you’re going to see sport. Some games the outcome is in doubt right up to the final play; other times, you can figure out pretty early which is the better team. Regardless, it’s always competition, and you see sport.

Friday night the Scots transcended sport and crossed a magical line.

They turned their play into a beautiful form of art.

We find beauty in all sorts of places.

...A morning’s sunrise or a colorful sunset.
...The scent of an orange blossom on a cool spring evening, or dew on a rose.

In basketball, beauty shows itself in the form of the pretty pass – that extra pass that an unselfish player makes to a teammate to set up an easy basket – even when the passer had an open shot of his own. 

Friday night the Scots consistently made the pretty pass. 

They defended as if their pants were on fire, covering so much ground that you had to count sometimes to be sure there were only five of them on the court.

Playing on the biggest stage of their basketball lives, they settled down after taking Stanwood’s best shot in the first few minutes of the game and proved not only that they belonged on the same court as the #2 team in the state - they proved that they were the better team.

We won! Daniel Ghebremichael #10 rejoices with his teammates
Photo by Geoff Vlcek
I had three favorite moments from Friday night.

With right at a minute left to go and the game tied, Daniel Ghebremichael found himself open and nailed a three-pointer to give the Scots the lead. With their undefeated record on the line for their last two meaningful possessions, Stanwood’s top scorer passed the ball rather than take the sort of clutch shot his team frankly hadn’t needed all year. Their second-leading scorer then passed the ball, as did their third and fourth top scorers. I’ll not forget that when the Spartans most needed a leader to step up and make a basket, almost everybody passed on the chance. That left it to their fifth-best scorer who missed the shot on both possessions. Ghebremichael grabbed the rebound on the second miss and made both ends of a one-and-one, giving the Scots an insurmountable 5-point lead with :10 to play.

On Stanwood’s final missed shot, SC’s Alex Hofstrand was called for his fifth foul of the night …with :00.6 remaining on the clock. His broad smile as he walked to the bench and into the arms of his jubilant teammates, knowing his team’s victory was set, hearing the roar of all the Scots fans in attendance, was a spine-tingling moment.

We won!
Caleb Fischer carries the trophy
Photo by Geoff Vlcek

But my favorite moment of a memorable night came about 30 minutes after the game had ended, after the team had cut down the nets, posed for pictures with the Championship Trophy under the netless rim, and gone to their locker room.

Fans and students were milling on the court, basking. Nobody was in a hurry to leave on such a special night.

In the midst of all the revelry, I saw an out-of-place worried look on the face of Coach Fischer’s wife, Amber. While her older son, 6 year old Brendan, was present and accounted for, dribbling his ever-present basketball through the crowded court, she couldn’t find her youngest, Caleb. 

We walked downstairs to the hallway that led to the locker room ..... no sign of the boy.

Amber asked if I'd go into the locker room, hoping he'd followed his dad there.

Just as I was getting to the door, out marches the little shaver with Greg Marshall, the team scorekeeper -- and Caleb was holding the heavy District Championship trophy high over his head, with both hands.


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