We Are the Champions

Captain Jack's Sparrows: 2010 Winter Champs

Photo © 2010 Stan Syckes

I’ve kept pretty quiet about my involvement in ZogSports 3-on-3 coed basketball this season (as opposed to other seasons). Until now, that is! As you can probably tell from the title of this post and the picture above that my team, Captain Jack’s Sparrows (not my idea of a great name), won the championships last Thursday. That’s the important info, but I’ve also aggregated the entire rest of the season into one post so you can all ignore just this one and move on.

Here’s a quick rundown of the players on my team:

  • CJ – our MVP. Doesn’t have a great shot but is a superior driver. Either gets to the basket or gets fouled. Unfortunately is completely overwhelmed by his emotions. When he wins he dances around on the court. When he loses he actually kicks chairs and breaks things in a back room.
  • Jonathan – the “coach” of the team. Keeps everyone involved and designs last minute plays. A feisty defensive player and the bruiser of the group. A good spot-shooter, but lacks athleticism, quickness and ballhandling.
  • Kathy – unaffected by pressure, her shot falls under any circumstance as long as she has a second of daylight. Can stay in front of her opponent, but lacks defense, rebounding and any ballhandling.
  • Kanika – first time ever playing basketball. Easily loses her opponent and needs to pass immediately after receiving the ball, but she did hit a shot in one game. Far more than I can say from my first season playing little league basketball.
  • Della – coworker who only showed up for one game so I didn’t get to see where she was good or bad.
  • Me – obvioulsy awesome. Actually, I still can’t drive but I’d play pick and pop with CJ all day and hit. I consider myself a good defender and decent rebounder but easily baited into dribbling too much.

A quick rundown of Zog play:

  • There are four levels of difficulty – Players, Sorta Players, Casual and Extremely Casual. I signed up for Extremely Casual and this year our division was named after the Jersey Shore girls (we were Snookie).
  • There were 12 teams in our division ranging from 6 players to an army of 10 or so. It was 3-on-3 coed and a woman had to be on the court at all times for each team.
  • Three teams would show up per night and play each other twice, resulting in 4 unique games per team. Each game was 11 minutes and brutal!
Date Result Opponents (Win-Loss) Overall Rank
Jan 14 3-1-0 Shots for Shots (2-0) and Sham Yao (1-1)
With a 3-1-0 start I thought we were going to have a pretty strong team. Turns out neither of these teams would make the playoffs so the wins might’ve been easier than they seemed.
3-1-0 ?
Jan 28 1-3-0 Makin’ Bacon (1-1) and Shot Goggles (0-2)
Hit some strong competition this week. Makin’ Bacon would go on to be the #1 team and we lost some close ones to Shot Goggles.
4-4-0 7/12
Feb 04 1-3-0 Leather Pumpkins (0-2) and Elin’s Vengeance (1-1)
The only week where all 6 team members showed up. Aaaaand we went 1-3-0. Two weeks in a row was pretty deflating. I started to feel like we had just gotten lucky the first week.
5-7-0 ?
Feb 08 3-1-0 Eye Pokers (2-0) and Wharfdogs (1-1)
I dub Kathy “Ice Water” as she starts to cooly end close games this week. She hits a clutch shot to come from behind in one game and sinks 2 free throws to end another.
8-8-0 6/12
Feb 16 4-0-0 Short Circuit (2-0) and Serenity Now (2-0)
My best night. I dump 24 points throughout the night. Kathy secures yet another game at the free throw line.
12-8-0 3/12
Feb 25 4-0-0 Short Circuit (2-0) and Flock of Seagulls (2-0)
Short Circuit forfeits due to not showing up so we play two 20-minute games with Flock of Seagulls. Things get even worse when the only woman on Flock gets injured in the second game and must also forfeit.
16-8-0 2/12
Mar 01 3-1-0 Makin’ Bacon (2-0) and Shot Goggles (1-1)
Kanika – who has never played basketball before this season – is the only woman to show up on our team and must play every minute. Cassie also shows up to observe/mock but we still pull out 3 wins against 2 strong teams.
19-9-0 2/12
Mar 12 3-1-0 Leather Pumpkins (1-1) and Flock of Seagulls (2-0)
We were really starting to gel as a team of 5 at this point and only lost the final game due to a mental breakdown. We were actually up by 2 points and they were out of fouls to use and yet we played too conservatively and lost with a buzzer-beater.
22-10-0 2/12

The Playoffs – That Predictable Sour Taste in My Mouth at the End of Seasons
As described in this old post (and still true up until this season), I was the Tracy McGrady of the Zog league. Ok, so I was nowhere near as good as he was – even in contrast with the rest of Zog – but I was always in the playoffs, whether on good or bad teams. Still, I never got past those first round series. Worse, I was starting to feel some haunting responsibility as I was the lone constant in all of these frustrating results.

This time, things were slightly different. First of all, we were the second seed out of the 6 playoff squads so we would receive a bye along with the first seeded team. This meant that seeds 3 through 6 would battle it out Tuesday, with the winners facing us in the semi-finals Thursday. The winners of these semi-finals would immediately face off in the championships. Each series was a best of 3 and the games were lengthed to 14 minutes (from their original 11). Therefore, it was possible we’d have to play a total of 6 games and a minimum of 84 minutes of game time. Even though I was preparing myself for a shitload of basketball, I was still barely ready for the beating we took.

We went all six games and played way over the 84 minutes! Here’s a quick breakdown of each series and games (if you’re still reading)!

SEMI-FINALS vs. Serenity Now
We actually got a break. Serenity Now was the underdog in their quarter-final matchup against Leather Pumpkins and we benefited extremely because they won. Out of all the teams we could’ve faced in both of these series, Leather Pumpkins was by far the one we had the most trouble against in the regular season.

Serenity Now was a rough group consisting of 6 people who could all shoot extremely well. We only had Kathy, CJ, Jonathan and myself for the playoffs and everyone of our opponents in this series was more athletic than Kathy and CJ. Worse, they had a guy who was over 6’3″ and way above 200 pounds.

  • Game 1 – A humilation. We were listless and played confused. No one was talking to each other on defense and I could barely keep up with the great passing from Serenity Now. It seemed like everyone on their team couldn’t miss and our layups were bouncing out of the basket. The end score was something like 19-6. CJ pouted on the sidelines at the end of the game while Jonathan tried to rally us, reminding everyone that it was just the first game.
    Captain Jack’s Sparrows: 0-1

  • Game 2 – We came back with a vengence but couldn’t do more than trade baskets with Serentiy Now. With 30 seconds to go we actually grabbed a two point lead and Serenity took a time out. All four of us were giddy and eager to move on to the next game. Unfortunately, Serenity scored two quick baskets in succession when play resumed! Now we were facing elimination, down 2 points with 1.5 seconds left!!!!! I heaved a desperation shot that missed but landed right in CJ’s hands for a putback to TIE THE GAME!!!!

    We were on such high emotion that we dominated on defense in OT. Our shots still weren’t falling but neither was Serenity’s. Something had to give and it turned out to be fouls as Serenity Now ran out of them, putting “Ice Water” Kathy to the line. Of course she hit the game winning free throws and we had somehow survived for one more game!
    Captain Jack’s Sparrows: 1-1

  • Game 3 – With two games of crappy bounces under our belt, shots finally began falling for us. CJ came alive and completely destroyed Serenity Now with drives to the basket. I started seeing a look of defeat in the eyes of our opponents and realized we had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It was still scrappy – we probably only won by 4 points – but the kick of adrenaline from Game 2 had worked us into our old, winning ways.
    Captain Jack’s Sparrows: 2-1

CHAMPIONSHIP vs. Makin’ Bacon
I figured it would come down to the first and second seeds for this game, but never realized how hard a fight it would take for us to get there. Meanwhile, Makin’ Bacon had dispatched of their foes in 2 quick games. Bacon wasn’t as rough as Serenity Now but we were once again the team with less athleticsm and height across the board. However, I assumed we would have an easier match as we had fared better against this team in the regular season than Serenity. Well, I was in for a rude awakening: there were a couple of hot heads on Makin’ Bacon that would rival CJ and plays would quickly turn into heated arguments and complaints to the refs.

  • Game 1 – Fresh off our come-from-behind, miracle win in the semi-finals we entered into the championship as a true basketball team. We found one, dominating play and ran it to perfection on every possession. CJ would handle the ball and drive into the middle off a pick from me or Kathy. If he had an opening he’d take it, otherwise he’d kick it out to an open shooter. We were in such great synchronicity that it all felt mindless and it was an easy win.
    Captain Jack’s Sparrows: 1-0

  • Game 2 – Part of the reason we earned the first win so effortlessly was due to Bacon’s self-implosion. Two of their guys were bickering with the refs while the rest of their players tried to cool them down. In the second game, the complaining was brought down and the intensitiy was brought up. Our go-to play was starting to get shut down and we had to eek out a 1 point lead with 3 seconds to go.

    Unfortunately, karma came to bite us in the ass. Just as we had somehow come up with a winning play in the second game of our first series, Bacon found an open layup at the buzzer (and I totally whiffed on the game-winning block), stunning us in the process.
    Captain Jack’s Sparrows: 1-1

  • Game 3 – As dissappointed as I was with not making sure Bacon was out when we had them on the ropes, I was just as pumped up. This was the absolute final game of the season and I felt as if I were in a Game 7 of the NBA Championships! Neither team really had an advantage for most of the game until about 2 minutes to go when we went ahead by 4. CJ either felt comfortable with the lead or was exhausted – I don’t know which – but he emphatically asked to sit. I was a little nervous as we’d usually spell him during the middle of games or if we had big leads as he was the focal point of our offense. I knew with him out, I’d be the set up man and would have to make plays as Kathy and Jonathan couldn’t dribble and would forget to make picks.

    We quickly got in trouble. I suddenly found myself being trapped in a far-away corner without a dribble. I passed quickly to Jonathan only to receive the ball back immediately. I got the message: make a play. Luckily, I had a few feet of daylight as my man had momentarily left me when trying to steal my pass. Unluckily, I was sitting behind the 3-point line. I chucked the dirtiest shot from somewhere around my lower chest and the ball made a loud “thud” as it hit the top of the backboard. AND WENT IN!

    With a lead of 7 points and a minute on the clock I suddenly felt a wave of relief. I knew we had to royally fuck up to lose now and I was going to make sure we didn’t do that! On our next possession, Jonathan got caught in a corner, fumbling to keep the ball in play and passed to me only to keep it alive. I was open and swiftly turned and shot – hitting another basket.

    Amazingly, I had hit 2-in-a-row for 5 consecutive points, giving us a ridiculous 9-point advantage with 30 seconds left. I knew we had it and so did everyone else in the gym. The refs counted out what remained of playing time and Captain Jack’s Sparrows celebrated.
    Captain Jack’s Sparrows: 2-1 Champions

Looking back, it truly was a phenomenal – and batshit surprising – season. In the championships, I felt nervous when I was suddenly in control of our team with 2 minutes to go … but we won! In the semi-finals we were facing elimination, down 2 points with 1.5 seconds left to go … but we won! We entered the playoffs with only 4 players against 2 physicallly dominating opponents … but we won! During the third week of the season we were sitting on a miserable 5-7-0 record … but we won!

But most importantly, this Zog league Tracy McGrady finally shed his post-season nerves and helped lead a team out of the first round.

Oh, and we won!

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Current Mood: Celebratory emoticon Celebratory

  • Zepmoon
    Monday, March 22nd, 2010 at 14:42 | #1

    Congratulations! This type of events is very important so savor it. I still have the trophy from when Dad and I won the Father/Son Tennis Tournament at the Cumberland Country Club in 1975. It is a treasured possession. Winning is fun.

  • Monday, March 22nd, 2010 at 14:47 | #2

    Yeah, well … Zog tried to screw us! While researching for this blog I looked at the official playoffs results and it showed us LOSING THE CHAMPIONSHIPS! I sent an email off to let them know this was in error and to make sure the charity WE selected received the winning check.

    But it was a great experience. I’ve loved playing basketball for a while but this made it special.

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