Last year, a few members of my Newton inner-circle, collectively known as “The Younger Professionals,” took part in a bowling league at Cardinal Lanes.
This became our routine on Wednesday nights and as the season came close to ending, we pondered “what’s next?”
Well, the solution came from former sports writer Dustin Turner, who suggested we join the Newton YMCA’s recreational basketball league. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: “I suck at basketball.”
However, I like having fun with my friends, partaking in social outings and this would be a nice way to get a workout in, so hey why not?
Last Thursday was pretty much the answer to why not. My team, “The MonStars”— named after the villains in the ‘90s cult classic “Space Jam,” staring the one and only Michael Jordan — played our first game against the Bluejays.
Oh by the way, the Bluejays is made up of six members of the Newton Senior High School basketball team, including Tyler Woods who led the team in scoring this year and was second in Iowa’s 4A class in three point shots made.
This should be no biggie, right?
But before I tackle the game itself, lets me give you a bit of background on our team. We got Dustin, who gives you everything he can on the basketball court except for height. You have me, who gives you height and just about nothing else except for rebounds and the occasional lucky wide open shot.
We have staff writer Zach Johnson, who has height, size and the uncanny ability to hit a miracle hook shot when least expected. Chris Chartier, Jasper County Veteran Affair’s Director, is our intimidator. He’s a veteran and possibly the most hardcore guy less than 6 feet tall in a 40-mile radius.
Keith Laube is our other “big” and is easily the second best player on the team. Brandon Cook is our sixth man and has a funky jump shot, but when it works, it works. Finally, the last guy on our team — who I met for the first time last Thursday — is a high school kid named Jordan, who has nice handles, but is an overzealous shooter.
This team, made up of guys who have only played together enough times for a person to watch two episodes of “The Big Bang Theory,” was playing its first game together and going up against essentially the starting line-up of the NHS varsity basketball team.
What could go wrong?
The first five minutes of the game were INTENSE! I got called for a foul maybe 20 seconds into the game and we were going nearly basket for basket with these young, in-shape and athletic basketball playing phenoms.
Here we were the MonStars, this rag-tag, assorted group of professionals — and our high school kid — trading blows with maybe the best NHS team in a decade. Those first five minutes were absolutely magical.
Then of course reality, age, and the extent of how bad our team was set in as the Bluejays took us out to the woodshed for the rest of the game. Apparently one of the benefits of being young, in-shape and athletic is that you are really, really good at sports, including basketball.
We tried our best, but as we were dripping sweat and huffing and puffing our way up and down the court, the Bluejays barely seemed winded and continued to score with absolute ease. It didn’t matter if we were in man or zone defense, they did whatever they wanted with the ball.
During the game, Brandon was shell shocked, Zach was playing very cautiously, Chartier was doing who knows what, our “Jordan” was losing the ball and jacking up so many shots the Bluejays stopped guarding him, Dustin and Keith were running a nice pick-and-roll set and I was trying not to get called for my fourth foul after getting three in the first half.
In the end, we lost 109-39 and we were all sore and impressed that we managed to score that many points on them.
As we gathered up our sweats, drinks and pride from the ground behind our bench, I walked over to the Bluejays and said:
“If you guys do Iowa City next year like you did us tonight, you guys will have the state championship on lock. So next year, do to them what you just did to us and bring home the championship.”
I’m quite certain beating the mess out of the MonStars will have played a major role in giving them the needed confidence for next year’s title run and I’m glad to have made the sacrifice for the greater good of NHS basketball.
So if the Cards win it all next year, you are welcome Newton.