Editors Note: This is a personal account of high school events over a quarter century ago. I apologize if names are misspelled and facts have been slightly altered. I now present to you Part I of a dramatic Two Part Saga. Enjoy!
Winning the 1989 State Division II Boys Basketball Championship really is a gift that keeps on giving. A few months back the school honored our quarter century old triumph by inducting the team into the M-A Athletic Hall of Fame. Getting everybody in the same room together brought back to life some great memories and served as a reminder that I’ve always wanted to tell the M-A story. So, here is an improbable hoop tale for the ages about a little public school that rose from obscurity to prominence for two glorious seasons.
Now before I jump into the M-A years, I need to set the scene.
In 1979 Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off for the NCAA Championship in a game that seemed to capture the imagination of the American public. For many a 8-9 year kid from coast to coast, it was a gateway into hoop fanaticism. Before that game basketball is just a blur in my memory, but from that special evening onwards, basketball was life. I begged my parents to have a hoop erected on the garage and suddenly shooting the rock while playing out fantasy college games in my head became my go to activity.
Simultaneously across the country, there was a new urban musical movement gaining traction where MC’s would rap over funky sampled drum beats. Early NYC hip hop pioneers such as Grandmaster Flash, The Sugar Hill Gang and Curtis Blow were creating an all new musical genre that was exciting, edgy and the perfect soundtrack for basketball. Suddenly, as Bird and Magic revived the Lakers/Celts rivalry, hip hop made it’s way into the suburbs across the land and Nike was soon to launch a worldwide phenomenon with the Air Jordan brand, basketball was the “Big Thing” that kids aspired to play.
The Formative Years
To pour kerosene on my early fire for the game, my uncle, Carroll Williams, was the head men’s basketball coach at Santa Clara University from 1970 – 1991. This genetic stroke of luck gave me the great fortune of being brought up around the game and provided the inside the ropes access that only a few other lucky kids were privy to. I can still vividly remember standing alone with a UNC freshman named Michael Jordan getting an autograph and I’ll never forget the day I got to sit on the bench with the team during a game at the ‘83 Great Alaskan Shootout watching SCU, led by Harold Keeling and Nick Vanos, battle Jimmy Valvano’s defending NCAA Champion NC St Wolfpack, led by the diminutive Spud Webb.
It was such a wonderful period to be a part of Bronco Basketball because they would fill the gym with rabid fans for heated rivals such as USF or a Gonzaga team led by John Stockton. But without a doubt the highlight for me every year was the legendary Cable Car Classic. In a four year period my impressionable young mind got to witness:
- Ralph Sampson’s Virginia Cavaliers
- Terry Cumming’s DePaul Blue Demons coached by the legendary Ray Meyer
- Denny Crum’s Louisville Cardinals led by Rodney and Scooter McCray
- Last but not least, Dean Smith’s ‘82 title winning Tar Heels led by James Worthy, Sam Perkins and that freshman named Jordan.
Needless to say, I was probably the first guy to sign up for the 4th grade basketball team upon my enrollment at La Entrada in 1981. Back in those pre-internet days when kids played unsupervised for 12 hour blocks at a time, our organized team sport options started with soccer and t-ball and expanded to basketball and flag football when we reached junior high. Only the Chip Congdon’s of the world were brave enough to don the pads and play Pop Warner tackle football. And lacrosse?….never heard of it.
But it was on the 4th grade hardwood where this tale begins. I’m not going to say that the streets of greater Menlo Park witnessed the best junior high basketball in the state, but in hindsight, we could have played with anybody. Ravenswood had Cedric and Kendrick Reed. St Seton had Tony Gillette. St Raymond’s had Atiba Williams and Jason Stamps. Menlo had Corey Clemetson and Chris Meade. St Joseph’s had Eric Lochtefeld. Nativity had Mark Tuite. La Entrada had Shanan Rosenberg, Bryan Beasley, and yours truly. Each one of those guys mentioned went on to have stellar high school careers and many other guys not mentioned were great athletes in other sports. If you took that group of kids and had them play on the same high school team, it would have been arguably the best team in California. There was something in the water. We were all competitive as heck. Loses ended with tears, temper tantrums and calls for revenge. Playing against those guys had you battle tested and ready for high school.
Quickly for the record:
- La Entrada lost to Nativity in the 4th grade title.
- La Entrada beat Ravenswood for the 5th grade title.
- La Entrada lost to St Seaton for the 6th grade title. T. Gillette and crew were too much.
- La Entrada defeated Ravenswood for the 7th Grade title. We used to love beating Ced, Ken and Victor Richardson.
- Ravenswood won the 8th grade title with LE nowhere to be found after the team rebelled and almost mutinied against Coach Steve Penna for some questionable mid season benchings.
The summer before the start of my freshman year at M-A, I attended my first Santa Clara week long basketball camp and was blown away by the intensity generated by a collective of Catholic High School coaches from around the Bay Area. These guys were flat out nuts for the fundamentals of the game and my coach for the week, John Raynor of San Ramon Valley HS fame, taught me more in a week than I learned in 5 years at La Entrada and 4 years at M-A. I could barely walk for days after that grueling hoops crash course, but I was transformed from a kid who played essentially playground ball into somebody versed in the fundamentals of winning basketball. It was my key moment in preparation for what was to come.
M-A C Team – ‘85-86
Warm Up Soundtrack: LL Cool J “Rock the Bells”
Shoes: White/Red/Black Air Jordans
Size: 5’10” – 130lbs
Arriving at M-A in the fall of ‘85 as a 5’10” frosh with toothpick legs and arms, I was persuaded to start my career on the C team. The league consisted of 5 teams and we played a quick 10 game schedule in the fall. Our team, consisting of the likes of Ted “3 Point” Peterson, Dell Turner, Baylene Lemelle and Brian Beiler, had a breeze of a time going 10-0 and I was named the MVP of the league. I then became the scorekeeper for the JV and Varsity teams during their winter season.
I’ll be honest, M-A basketball at this time was pathetic. Student support was non existent and the games were rag tag affairs played in front of a friends and family only crowd of about 40 people. The uniforms were from the early 70’s, the gym lights barely worked and there was no joy or love of the game on display. It was a bunch of angry teens bickering with one another, their coach, or the refs, and finding a way to self sabotage time and time again. Watching this wretched display certainly dampened my hope that in just two short years we were going to completely transform this toxic culture into something special, but I could still find solace just shooting the ball for hours on end in my front yard while living out the dream in my head.
To close the chapter on our freshman year, we went up to the Oakland Coliseum to watch the State Finals and I remember being very impressed by Adam Keefe and thinking that being able to play at that level was beyond my wildest dreams.
M- A JV’s – ‘86-87
Warm Up Soundtrack: Beastie Boys “Licensed to I’ll”, Run DMC “Raising Hell”
Shoes: Patrick Ewing’s by Adidas
Size: 6’2.5” – 140lbs
For sophomore year, Atiba Williams got the call up to the varsity but I was able to team up with Cedric and Kendrick Reed for the first time to form a nice little JV team. I just remember thinking that I was now in the big time! Our coach was Gene Stamps and he was a tough but fair coach who didn’t take any mess. We had a couple of tough early season losses to St Francis and Cupertino but we grew to respect and trust each other and by years end we had won the PAL and finished with a 18-4 record. We had also all become friends off the court, which wasn’t always the case at M-A. As a bonus, the three of us were called up to the varsity team for the playoffs but that lasted all of one game when they (we) lost to Cappuchino.
I’d be remiss not to mention a dunk that Cedric Reed had that year. At only 5’7” and pencil thin, the 15 year old C. Reed defied gravity momentarily and almost put his head through the rim in one of our games. I will never forget trailing behind the break (as usual) and witnessing that slam.
And after the game, there was nothing better than going to Chili’s on the El Camino for an Old Timer with cheese and about 5 refills of coke. (I swear that’s not a paid advertisement).
M-A Varsity – ‘87-88
Warm Up Soundtrack: Eric B and Rakim “Paid in Full”
Shoes: Plain Nike Airs
Size: 6’4” – 155lbs
You could not ask for a stranger cast of characters than the ‘87-88 M-A Bears. To draw from three movies of the era as a reference point, we were a peculiar split of Revenge of the Nerds and Boyz in the Hood, with a dash of Dumb and Dumber tossed in. On the Nerd side there was Kirk “Mad Dog” Nelson, Derek Shoal, Nils Nordstrand and Ian Weiss, all highly intelligent, socially semi awkward, bookish white guys who you would have expected to find in the library on a Friday night reading scientific periodicals rather than running the layup lines in front of a crowd of Two Live Crew lovers. On the Hood side you had Ced Reed, Ken Reed, Atiba Williams, Denard White, James Davis and Roy Robinson, kids who had grown up in a tough neighborhood and found basketball as an escape from the rough streets. Somewhere in the middle there was Ted “3 Point” Peterson and myself playing the role of Dumb and Dumber and on an island all by himself, the blue collar rough and tumble Ronnie Knepper, aka “The Slammer”. For good measure, toss in a flaky Spanish exchange student named Vicente, a devout born again Christian assistant coach named Craig and at the helm of this strange ship, our head coach, Jeff Klenow, who always looked to be on the verge of a heart attack.
We were picked by the PAL coaches in the Peninsula Times Tribune preseason poll to be a mid pack team in the league but when I looked around the floor of the tiny Boys Club gym in East Menlo for our first practice, there was an abundance of talent on display. My personal hero, James Davis, was dominating things from the outset. James was a 6’2” lefty who played more like he was 6’7” because of his ridiculous hops and brute strength. He was the Len Bias of Menlo Park. He couldn’t shoot a lick outside of 10 feet but would get you 20 a game on pure athleticism and hustle. Another player lighting it up was Roy Robinson, a 6’3” silky smooth lefty who could shoot the three or take it to the hole and dunk in traffic. Kendric Reed, as always, was finding ways to put points on the board. I was thinking that playing time was going to be tough to come by with all of these athletes but before we even got to the first game, James, Roy and Kendric were declared academically ineligible. It was a tough blow to take to see these guys lose out on their dream, but the rest of us just dug in and kept practicing.
As we headed into our first real game Ced and Denard were holding down the guard spots, Atiba was our 3 man, and Ronnie, Kirk and I were rotating around the other positions. Derek was also proving to be an effective lane clogger and rim protector in the middle at 6’7” with tree trunk legs. But we still had yet to find an identity or shed that crappy attitude that was pervasive throughout M-A basketball. Our senior point guard Denard’s method of communication with half the team was 5 different variations of scowls, head shakes and a lot of cursing under the breath. We were always bickering, jumping on each other for mistakes and generally having a shitty time of it all.
Just before we started the season, we had a team dinner at our assistants house and watched Hoosiers. There really is something about that movie that inspires and dares you to dream big. It was a nice bonding experience and put us in a positive frame of mind for the coming months.
Out of the gate we were pretty average. Denard was used to playing a flat out speed game with his Bethany Lutheran and Kelly Park mates and it worked when he was surrounded by four horses, but now he only had two and a bunch of slow white guys. I could thrive in the half court game but didn’t have a clue how to play the run and shoot in 3 seconds game. I was pressing. The team was pressing as we lost 4 of the 12 preseason games, including losing to El Camino at home on a buzzer beater and getting our annual shellacking by St Francis.
I think that Craig, our born again assistant coach, was so concerned with my poor state of mind that he tried his damnedest to get me to let the Lord into my life with a series of after school speeches and one awkward home visit that ended abruptly when I cut him off by stating that I really only cared about drinking beer, fast cars, naked women and Van Halen.
As we started league we were still just another anonymous team sport at M-A playing in front of a small, dreary crowd and a bored crew of lovely cheerleaders. Student or town support was unheard of. On an average Friday night in 1987, the M-A kids who I knew were more apt to be seeking a vacant house to drink booze, smoke weed and try their luck with a lady than go watch a bunch of guys they hardly know play basketball.
But there were small signs of improvement. We went to play the number one ranked San Mateo in their 1950’s pit style gym and lost a thriller in double OT in front of a raucous crowd. That game is all a flash now but neither team would quit and everybody played their hearts out. After the game the San Mateo coach, a basketball lifer named Gus Hassapakis, came into our locker room to hug each one of us and declare the game the best he’d ever seen in all his years.
Another game that stands out was a 3:30 Wednesday afternoon special at Hillsdale. Hillsdale was a physical team led by a beast of a guy named Albert Duncalf. Al was about 6’2”, 235 lbs and wore Kurt Rambis style glasses. He was an all league linebacker and a super nice guy, but played rough. Our enforcer, Sr. Ronnie Knepper, was much smaller at 6’ 200lbs, but Ronnie had more power in a single finger than most had in their thighs. It’s too bad that cage fighting wasn’t around when Ronnie was younger because he would have been a force. Anyways, somewhere during a dive on a loose ball those two bulls locked onto each other and it turned into a brawl that spilled out of the gym and into the trophy entry way. It looked like two people in a blender and anybody who attempted to step in and break it up was tossed aside like loose debri in the wind. The melee seemed like it took 20 minutes to untangle and when it was over I had it as a draw on my scorecard.
We played the rest of the league out in solid form and readied ourselves for the PAL tourney. Often this tourney would spell the end of the season for M-A, as the winner and runner-up moved on to CCS and everybody else went home. Prior to the first game, Coach Klenow made the announcement that he was calling up a few JV standouts and more importantly, Roy Robinson had taken care of his studies and was back! In our first game Roy came out smoking with a dunk party and we clobbered Cappuchino. Near the end of the game coach Klenow substituted the JV kids in before a few of our regular backups, and we were ticked off. So ticked that Ted “3 Point” P. took the initiative and checked himself into the game. On his first possession, Ted caught the ball 35 feet from the hoop and launched a no look 3 that went about 25 feet. It was messy and after the game Ted sealed his fate by throwing his crumpled up jersey at Coach Klenow and heading for the exit for good.
We easily won the next game to set up a final with San Mateo and the opportunity to get revenge for our mid season 2OT heartbreak defeat. With the PAL title on the line, we were now in the flow and took care of business to defeat our rivals. It felt like one of those statement games where we announced to the basketball community that M-A was now legit and it did wonders for our confidence. To cap off a great night, the one and only Joe Montana was on hand to give us a handshake and a trophy. It was on to CCS.
I honestly can’t remember our first two wins in CCS but I can certainly remember the third against Leland at Prospect High. Leland was the top seeded team in the tourney and were led by future NBA post man, 6’10” Reggie Smith, and a few other big bodies. Their guards were solid but were not accustomed to the speed of Denard and Ced. The game was a back and forth affair with the Leland side of the gym packed with cheering fans and the M-A side now up to about 45 supporters, 5 of whom looked they were some hard-ass street gangstas. Each team would go on runs but the other team would weather the barrage and fight back. With a minute to go we lost Atiba to fouls and the situation was looking bleak. With 18 seconds to go we were down six and Roy canned a 3 to cut it to three. Leland tried to kill the clock but Denard made a steal and with a few seconds left found Roy again who coolly bottomed another three to tie. Leland in-bounded to their towering Reggie Smith and with one second left on the clock, the ref blew the whistle for a reach call. So with 1 second on the clock, Reggie Smith, a future NBA player, had two foul shots to ice the game and move on. Coach Klenow called timeout to give Smith something to think about while all in attendance were going wild. The 5 aforementioned street gangstas actually came out of the stands to the edge of the court and got in Smith’s face. I don’t know what they said, but I’d imagine it wasn’t “Good Luck.”
As Smith stepped up to the line with the threat of a drive-by likely looming in his head, he missed the first. He then bounced the ball three times, focused and let it fly. Watching the ball in flight felt like a slow motion moment in pure silence but suddenly the ball was bouncing off the iron and I was able to grab it and cover up till the horn sounded. Miraculously, we were going to OT.
Somewhere in the first OT we lost Ced to fouls and again the season seemed to be on the brink. We were playing with Denard, Roy, Derek, Ronnie and me, the strangest crew ever assembled, but we kept on fighting and before I knew what was happening, the horn sounded and we were going into double OT. Our 5 street gangstas were now standing on the court barking out instructions and becoming my best friends all at once. It was sensory overload, but damn fun to be a part of. In the second OT, we scratched and clawed our way to an ugly 69-65 victory and a date the next day in the CCS final. It was without a doubt the craziest sporting event that I had ever been a part of.
The CCS Final really is another blur. We played a very athletic Yerba Buena team at Independence High School on a rubber floor for the Division II crown. I can still remember glancing over during layups and noticing a lot of large black guys soaring above the rim and thinking that it was going to be a long night. I was also picking up that we had new found fans, real student body fans, for the very first time. Even the cheerleaders suddenly looked semi excited. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the gangstas.
When the ref tossed up the ball we settled into a great game where kids were flying around all over the court making plays and living in the moment. There was no thinking, just reacting and having fun. Neither team could get any separation and as we were becoming accustomed, when the horn sounded at the end of 32 minutes, the score was tied. It was back to OT.
In OT our relentless press and speed finally wore out YB and with the 75-71 win, we were CCS Champs! That title alone seemed like a remarkable accomplishment but we didn’t have long to bask in our glory because it was on to NorCals.
The first round of Norcals was hosted on our campus gym and the atmosphere was fantastic. In the corner of the gym you had arguably the greatest high school rock band of all time, Twilight Breakfast, led by Tim Young on guitar. In the stands there were folks from all over the community and in the student section, I could spot many of the the girls that I’d had been yearning for since puberty. It was evident that the student body section was properly fueled with dope and beer and for once, we were the party.
Our first opponent was a scrappy crew from Redding who didn’t even know what hit them. In seconds, our press had melted them down and the rest of the game was a dunk show.
Next in line in our journey was road contest at Jesuit High School in the Sacramento area. Jesuit was one of these big sports factory schools who recruited kids and looked like a college program. I can remember taking to the court in warm ups and being blown away by the packed stands with a huge marching band, multiple layers of cheer squads and mascots and rabid townies. The other thing I can remember is they were laughing at us.
One thing you have to remember, we looked like a bunch of scrawny runts playing ball in tighty-whities and the school did us no favors by being too cheap to provide warm-up pants. Just lame snap button shooting shirts and shorts so short they made John Stockton’s Jazz shorts look like clam-diggers. Our layup lines were scrappy. We all had different colored shoes and socks. Our big man wore regular eye glasses with Croakies. We even had a guy with foggy goggles, visible skin rashes and Ace bandage wraps around the knees. To an opposing team or crowd, we looked like cannon fodder.
Oh but the joys of being blessed with speed. It’s true, speed kills! We gave them 5 minutes to have their fun and then Ced, Denard, Roy and Atiba put them in a torture chamber. I swear there were 5 straight possessions where they could not get the ball across half court. You could see defeat in their guards eyes as each guy with the misfortune of having the ball in his hands resembled a separated deer surrounded by wolves. By the middle of the second quarter it was game, set and match. Final Score: 77-59.
For the next round, the Norcal Semi’s, I can’t remember a single detail from the game but that doesn’t matter. What is important is the game was played on the Sacramento King’s floor in Arco Arena. For young teens who grew up in love with the game, to find yourself playing a game in front of a large crowd in a professional area felt like a dream come true. It was mind boggling. To make things even more amazing, we used the same locker room that the Kings used. I remember quickly scanning the name tags on the lockers and setting up camp in Ed Pinckney’s locker because of his heroics for Villanova in their inconceivable ‘85 NCAAA Championship over Patrick Ewing and the Mighty Georgetown Hoyas. Running out into the bright lights and winning the game was just the icing on the cake.
For the NorCal final, we stayed in the Bay and played in the Oakland Coliseum Arena, home of the Golden State Warriors. On a court where I witnessed Magic, Kareem, Larry and Dr J in person as a boy, it felt surreal to be slapping glass in the layup line. Unfortunately for me, that was as far as I got that night. We were matched up against a big Ygnacio Valley team and their 6’9” star, Eric Bamberger, and coach Klenow found a rotation early on who were getting the job done so he rode them to the end. Bamberger may have been the metro player of the year and the media darling who had signed an offer to play at St Mary’s, but Atiba Williams was the star of the night with an amazing performance that left Bamberger gassed and playing on wobbly legs. Sure I was ticked off not to have played a second after I had been playing about two full quarters a game, but it was impossible not to get caught up in the euphoria of the 85-72 win. In the span of just a few months, M-A had gone from PAL also-ran’s to Northern California DII Champs!
Heading into the California State Final, we were matched up against Foothill of Bakersfield, a team we really knew nothing about. When I first heard who we were playing, I assumed that we were likely playing a bunch of big farm boys, but oh was I wrong.
The week of preparation leading into the final was such a joyous time in my high school career. After months of playing high level ball, our fitness was at ridiculous levels and I felt like a gazelle. We were suddenly campus celebrities on par with the parking lot weed dealer and everybody was wishing us well for the big game. Even teachers who had zero interest in me before were now keeping me after class to chat about the game. The ladies…..well they kept their distance out of respect for my intense focus.
Back in the Oakland Coliseum under the lights for the second time in a 7 day period was almost starting to feel routine. The California DII crown was on the line and we were psyched. One of us was maybe a little too psyched. When we arrived on the floor to start our layup line, the nets on each basket were still being replaced after the cutting ceremony for the DII Girls final. Our keyed up man at the front of the line, Ian Weiss, didn’t seem to notice that there was a ladder with a man on it in front of the rim because he dropped his head and charged the hoop like a young Apache Brave heading into battle. Weiss wasn’t likely to see the court that night so this was his chance to shine. At about two feet from the ladder he finally looked up, but it was too late because he went barreling into the ladder and sent the poor net replacer flying. The lights on the floor are so bright that you can only see people in the first couple of rows, but I could hear laughter out in the darkness and I was trying to keep from falling over myself. Luckily no one was seriously hurt.
It didn’t take long to wipe the smile away when I saw our competitors run out of the locker room. 15 large black kids who looked all business. Two of their 6’6” forwards had signed D1 letters with Boise St. They also had a guard named Reggie Phillips who on his way to UC Riverside. (note- Phillips led Riverside to the D2 National Title and went on to play with the Harlem Globetrotters). We were still in our little shooting shirts with mini shorts, but we now had a swagger and were oozing confidence. This was going to be epic!
After the tip, the game settled into a fast paced back and forth game. I had no idea if Coach Klenow was going to call my number but the adrenaline was flowing and I was ready. Somewhere in the early second quarter, I got the call and jogged to the scorers table. The wait for the next dead ball was nerve wracking, but the minute I stepped on the floor I felt wonderful. Within seconds it was evident that we had not faced kids this physical before. I tried to box out a big man on the block who was about 40 lbs heavier and it felt like I was trying to move a brick wall. But about my third trip down the floor I received a pass in rhythm and let it fly from the corner with my feet on the 3 pt line. All Net..cue the cheering crowd. Man that felt good to run back on D. Two possessions later I managed to snag an offensive board and put it back in. In my mind I was Jordan. I could feel our whole community cheering as we ran back down the court. I was living out Hoosiers! Part of me also wanted to give Coach Klenow the bird for sitting me the whole NorCal game. But before I knew it, the buzzer sounded and it was halftime. We were in the game but it was going to be tough.
In the second half it was clear that this team was the more athletic squad. Reggie Phillips had a steal and nasty dunk, and later a LeBron style shot block where he chased down our guard and swatted the ball off the glass. Ced and Denard had never been out quicked before so it was a shock to witness. But our confidence remained and Roy, Denard, Ced and Atiba kept playing Kelly Park ball and the points were adding up.
Early in the 4th quarter I got the call and was tossed into the mix. This was my chance to shine. We were down 5-7 points and we needed to get a few stops. I quickly let a three fly that felt perfect but it didn’t drop. We got a stop and were down three points when Roy made one of his signature drives to the hole for an apparent bucket and 1, but the ref stepped in and called a charge. You have got to be kidding me! To this day I think it was a terrible call. It was a four point swing as Foothill hit their two foul shots. Down 5 with just a few minutes on the clock, I caught the ball at the three point line. I slowly started to shoot but saw a defender closing fast so I pumped him, took a dribble and shot the open two. Again it felt perfect but again it rimmed out. F&%$!!!.
This is where I wish I could tell you I became Jimmy Chipwood and hit three 3’s to win the game, but life doesn’t always work that way. With about a 40 seconds to go and down 5, I caught it behind the arc, and again decided to sidestep the charging defender and shoot the open two. I figured I’d make the 2 and call a TO. Well kids, I missed the shot again after loving the way the ball felt leaving my hand. They boarded the shot and it was all but over. I was crushed. A couple of teammates were giving me crap for not shooting the three but I was in my own world and they were just noise. I still find myself as a middle aged stiff drifting back to those three shots and thinking “what if?”. To this day they still all feel like they are going in. Why basketball Gods?
Final score: Foothill 66 – MA 61. Overall record: 29-6
In the locker room after the game there was a mix of disappointment, a few tears and a calmness that you achieve after completing a long journey. Nobody was screaming or pounding lockers. It was sort of a moment of reflection as we quietly dressed as a team for the final time. We had made it to the very last game, and fell 5 points short. It was an incredible achievement that nobody saw coming just four months prior, and we had so much to be proud of. I felt terrible for Denard, Roy and Ronnie because they were done, but looking at Ced and Atiba, I knew we were just getting started. This experience was our dress rehearsal for our senior year. Having come so close, it was state title or bust in ‘89.