I found what I have been missing from area high school basketball games when I covered the Lapeer West vs Swartz Creek district final on Friday; a full-house of loud, dedicated fans.
We cover an awful lot of basketball games during the double winter season and I have not personally experienced a crowd of this size and loudness in at least three years. If you missed the game, you missed a whole lot more. THIS is what basketball games are supposed to be about; two teams going full out for a title and two very passionate and vocal fan sections, equally going full out.
What a spectacular show of support from both schools. I think Swartz Creek brought its entire town and the sea of the red on the left and sea of blue and gold on the right was a sight to behold, and hear. Talk about loud!
Corner-to-corner taunting, cheers and show of support brought the house down for the players, towns and their fans. Both sides came ready, too, with students, parents and coaches egging on the fans. Creek coach Scottie Wright, in his first season at the helm of Creek, was just as equally engaged in the game as with the fan section which sat right behind him.
I give a lot of credit to both fan sections, which also gave the crowd their monies worth. West would chant something like, “you can’t catch us,” and Creek’s fans, without missing a beat retorted “let’s play football, let’s play football.”
Ouch! Touché kids!
I’ve seen West’s fans in action many times and Creek’s. During hockey season, an equally visual, vocal and aggressive fan section fills the Dragons’ side of Perani Arena. They come prepared with their instigations and retorts to the opposition and the Boosters are in full Dragon Pride in red and white striped overalls, megaphones and spirit towels and banners lofted skyward.
Back at last Friday’s game, several of the girls from West, and probably not even cheerleaders, took over the shouting duties with mini megaphones, painted legs with blue and gold handprints, Panther Pride colors and more energy than most of us could muster up. The girls did a fantastic job roaming the length of the gym along with the Panthers’ mascot, engaging the entire crowd in the fun. I know both teams fully enjoyed the support from the hometown, and visitors’ sections.
It made me stop and think for a minute during a few timeouts, just how lucky these two teams were on the night, and then just what a whole lot of our teams are missing. Every high school team should be able to see, hear and enjoy a crowd of this magnitude; most don’t. That’s the missing element we have witnessed since the double season began a few years back. Some of that is unavoidable as the school’s are their own worst enemy, splitting the boys and girls at different sites. like how the Flint Metro and some other leagues still schedule putting the JV squads at one sight and the varsity squads at another. I know it’s mostly due to logistics, but Friday night’s very positive spectacle was very telling on several fronts. What a great game, great showing of support, and just great fun for everyone!
Even when the game was in in its final minutes, the Creek fans kept cheering: “We…believe. We believe… we will win. We believe we will win.” That chant got louder and louder and a giant white banner sported the same cheer. What a great moment for the kids to remember.
Of course, fully prepared, West chanted back as the clock ran out and the disheartened Creek players and fans walked off the floor: “na, na, na, na; na, na, na, na; hey, hey, hey, goodbye.” That one drew a few boos, and some quick gestures from West administrators to chill, as some felt it was a little disrespectful.
The whole night was just a great example of what every district should strive for from its fans. Great job, West and Swartz Creek! firstname.lastname@example.org