Well, it just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.
I was there, with my wife, to witness the end (for this year only) of the dreams of both of the Deerfield boys and girls high school basketball teams. These two teams were great and certainly have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about by losing to a couple of teams in the sweet 16 of the state tournament who may end up being state champs — especially the boys Mt. Vernon team from the Atlanta area. That team looked like it belonged in the NBA! You would agree with me if you saw last game in Milledgeville.
This year, the Deerfield girls team was supposed to be good and they were, but the boys were supposed to be rebuilding after winning the state championship last year and, incidentally, the football State championship this year.
Both teams gave the Deerfield fans a great deal to cheer about. The great thing to me was to see some of the young players maturing and developing into some very good athletes. They had some outstanding players who improved greatly and learned, by coach Gruhl’s help, to play like a smooth operating team.
That isn’t always easy to do when you have some individual players who are stand-outs. But coach Gruhl has the knack of getting his players to play like a team and to be unselfish. That is why Deerfield comes up with a great team each year, even when everything tells you that it isn’t possible. At Deerfield, you are a team player, or you don’t play.
Both Deerfield teams will surely be missing all the seniors on their teams, but both teams have some very outstanding young players that will be stepping up to ably fill the gaps. Those players being lost are Sarah Shellhaas, Morgan Phillips and Lauren Fulford from the girls team, and Banks Kinslow, Zach Cleland, and Stanley Chen on the boys team. The players returning will, in my opinion, will have a good chance to make the final four and possibly become state champs.
The big improvement that will be needed between now and then will be in the area of free throws. The great teams make their free throws, especially when they are up against their toughest competitors. In fact, those of you who saw the last boys game knew that Deerfield would have probably won the state this year if they had made a decent percentage of their free throws.
If they had just made three more than they did, they would have been in the Final Four and probably won it all. That is how darn important that they are. Except for that problem in the final games, the Deerfield teams both played their very best and it was heartbreaking to see them lose as a result.
Congratulations on a great basketball year, Deerfield. All of us fans will be eager to see what great teams will be making the school proud next year.
Written by Ted Anderson. Insurance agent Ted W. Anderson worked in sales for half a century, has lived in Albany since 1993. He is president of Dover Lane Neighborhood Watch. Send email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.