Monday, March 15, 2010

Impromptu weekend plans are the spice of life

This weekend was a fun one. I decided Friday afternoon I wanted to wake up early Saturday to buy some basketball tickets. Not just any basketball tickets…the men’s 4A championship game between the Lancaster Tigers and the infamous Jack Yates Lions from Houston’s 3rd ward. This Yates team won the 4A championship last year and were looking to repeat this year, trying to emulate those wonderful ‘94-‘95 Rockets championship teams we all love. These guys even wear the same red and gold!

Yates has been in the news all season; not just for their undefeated record, but for destroying other school’s teams by such large deficits as 135 points (Lee), 115 points (Davis), and 99 points (twice: Kashmere and Lee). They passed the century mark in over three quarters of their games…simply ridiculous.

They’re known for their full-court press the entire game—even when the game is far out of reach for the opposing team. If you’re a new-age parent, you might be thinking: they’re a mean team! so hateful! how could they demoralize those other kids like that?! …right? Well, the coach is the one who’s been getting most of the heat and criticism from sports radio and sports writers…and after seeing them Saturday, rightfully so. The players seemed like good kids, so you’d have to put it on Coach Wise for pushing the entire-game-full-court-press approach.

Coach Wise

Tickets for the championship game went on sale 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning. I woke up, got my nose-bleed seats for the hopeful-dunkfest, and made my trip to the state capital. I met up with my dad and we grabbed our seats a little early. I was glad I got my tickets early, because the game was sold out! At will call, there was a guy to my right trying to get tickets to the Session 8 games. All I heard him say was “Two for Session 8, please.” “What do you mean?” “I don’t want tickets to session 9 [5A championship game later that night].” “I don’t understand!” “You’re telling me there’s no way of getting into this game?” “Okay…thanks.” Haha! Uh, dude…you’re trying to get tickets to see the #1 team in the nation play, just 30 minutes before their game starts? Idiot.

sold out!

My dad made a funny observation: of the four teams we saw (the 2A championship and the 4A championship), team mascots were Wildcats, Lions, and Tigers. The Panthera genus was well represented in Session 8. My brother met us there a little later. Again, we’d all heard about this team in the news but didn’t know what to expect. I can tell you I did hope to see a blowout with tons of dunking. That’s not what we got! We got a great game instead, which happened to probably be Yates’ worst game of the season. At one point they were 19-61 on field goals…which is terrible (they ended the game 30-83, 36%). They missed so many lay-ups and at one point, Lancaster was leading 5-0 in dunks. Were the tigers about to get an upset?!

Erwin Center

At half-time, Yates was up 44-40. Not 100-12 like the Lee game earlier in the season. Lancaster was actually hanging with them and had started to take control of the game in the 2nd quarter, outscoring Yates 23-21! The second half continued Lancaster’s momentum as they held Yates to just 17 points!?!? How is that Lancaster was not ranked in the national top 10 if Yates is ranked #1?! After three quarters, Lancaster was up 65-61. Their biggest lead was 6 points over the defending state champs, halfway through the third period! This game wasn’t the blowout dunkfest I’d traveled two and a half hours to see…but it was AWESOME nonetheless! Especially in the fourth when Yates was finally able to slam the door shut on Lancaster. Their defense finally came alive at the same time as their offense, as they beat Lancaster 31-8 in the final period. Two or three dunks by Yates kids (including an alley-oop) were just sick. Get-up-out-of-your seat, fist-pumping, “YEAH!”-yelling sick! THIS was what I came to see!

Player to watch at the collegiate level: Brandon Peters, who has given a verbal commitment to Western Kentucky and is ranked #58 among shooting guards on ESPN’s high school prospects. We didn’t stick around for the trophy ceremony, but we’re pretty sure he received Tournament MVP honors. This kid was amazing in the championship game, scoring 37 freaking points. He was a beast! Another kid to watch is Michael Young’s (of Phi Slama Jama fame) son, Joseph Young. This kid was lights-out from three point range, shooting 43% (6-14) from beyond the arc and ending the game as the second leading scorer with 24 points. He’s signed with Providence University and is ranked #99 on ESPN’s top 100.

I’m glad the game was amazing—made the trip to Austin more than worth it! After the game, Brad and I moseyed over to Cain & Abel’s to watch the second half of the Big 12 championship game. I’m a huge Kansas Jayhawk fan, so watching this game was a must! They ended up beating K-State by 8, picking up the school’s 2,001st win. I love seeing Sherron Collins playing at his full potential, something he hasn’t done too well the past few weeks, and he was able to pick up Big 12 tournament MVP. The Big 12 regular season and tournament champs made them a lock for the #1 seed in the midwest portion of the tournament bracket. (And YES I’ll be choosing them to win it all when I fill out my brackets this week! Rock chalk all the way!)

This was my first trip to Cain & Abel’s, an Austin bar near the UT campus my brother enjoys to visit…simply for the scenery. I noticed a few tables were drinking this yellowey-brown stuff in huge mason jars and had to ask our server what it was:

2010-03-13 18.40.50

Wow. “Oh that’s Texas Tea! Like a Long Island, but with an extra shot of tequila.” Mmmm…I’ll take two! It was definitely worth going back for in the future. Their food was good too—I had the Cali Chicken sandwich. This naturally led to calling it an early night, because two will have you feeling pretty great!

Sunday we were treated to Conan’s Pizza. This place looks super weird, or as my brother puts it: a time-warp back to the ‘80s.  But the pizza was pretty darn good. They don’t claim Chicago-style on their deep dish, but that’s what it is! I got a small 10” Savage and somehow ate the whole thing. No bueno. I mean it was good! But an entire pizza? Yikes. I made sure I ran a quick 4-miler (7:25 pace) when I got back to Houston to (somewhat) offset the onset of calories and unsaturated fat that will take weeks to rid my body of!

It was another beautiful day in Austin, so we got a frisbee and found the nearest park to soak in the sun. Afterwards we drove by the kite festival and it looked crazy-packed at Zilker Park! It was definitely a great day to be in a jeep, and my dad’s was just the ticket.
I’m not really looking forward to working this week, but it’ll be a short one as I head to Austin again Thursday night for SXSW! Hopefully I’ll get a post up of the bands I anticipate seeing before I head that way.

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