A player steps to the foul line. Bounces the ball once, maybe twice. Lifts it up, takes the shot — when the graceful motion is interrupted by a shrill scream of “BRICK!” from the stands. The ball goes up, the ball goes down. Miss.
Familiar enough, right Well, not exactly. This happened to West High’s Whitney Howard on Tuesday — in her own gym.
Granted, it was a Tuesday evening, and the Wolf Pack were playing McNair — not exactly a Tyson-Ali matchup, but still a league game West needed to win. For whatever reason, the freshman and sophomore McNair players hanging around the gym — just waiting for varsity to end so they could go home — outnumbered West’s home fans, so whatever they felt like saying, they said. And it was heard. With an echo effect.
West went on to win the game by more than 30 points, and the Wolf Pack’s attention wasn’t so diverted that they couldn’t hit 25 free throws, but if I were on that team, I’d be royally annoyed. We’re supposed to be at home, right I’m guessing the favor is returned when West goes on the road, but still. That ain’t right.
This phenomenon is less marked across town at Tracy High’s Swenson Gym, but then only because it’s smaller. At some games there, you can hear almost everything during timeouts, but West’s Den is like Carlsbad Caverns when it’s empty. Or like a Ricola commercial. You get the idea.
“We don’t seem to have that many fans,” Howard told me Wednesday. “It doesn’t really bug me as a player when people yell during free throws, but it bothers me when the team doesn’t have that much support.”
“I know when we win more, we seem to get more and more fans,” she added. “I think people like to see winning teams.”
And that’s the rub. Home court is supposed to mean something. West is on a seven-game winning streak, and there’s over 3,000 kids in the school. What’s it going to take
Power to us
The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section released its first playoff basketball power rankings (now there’s a mouthful) of the season Monday. It’s still early, but there’s some legit hope for postseason hoops in our fine little town — the Wolf Pack girls sit at third, and the Bulldogs are close behind at sixth. Both won their first games this week but face big tests tonight.
For the boys, it’s a little less likely — the