Flight teams won all four tough Saturday Tournament games, winning both Boys Regional Qualifier championships, and 3rd place in the Girl’s division. As usual, DJ “The Marvel” Hoffer was instrumental in all three Boys games, both on and off the court.
DJ started the day with 15 first-quarter points in the JV’s third win over Crown of the year. Up 21-12 at the half, DJ wasn’t needed the rest of the way. He rested up for the impending Varsity battle against the tough Nashville Warriors. In a rare Varsity start, DJ scored 17 in the big win, also providing vital help on the defensive end. Immediately after the Varsity game, DJ started for the JV. Before the game the Nashville scorekeeper voiced his displeasure in Flight’s perfectly legal move, playing boys in both JV and Varsity games. But after just a couple of minutes DJ came out of the game, spending the rest of the afternoon vigorously cheering on his teammates to victory.
This was a day of sweet redemption for the Marvel, whose season couldn’t have turned out as he’d expected. His Varsity play was overshadowed by the excellent play of Josiah and Travis, though DJ’s all-around contributions were invaluable. Kara and Danielle’s exploits stole headlines. There were many JV wins where DJ wasn’t needed. In most others he drew double-teams, allowing Connor to shine. In the game he was most needed, DJ hit the game-winning free throw at Covenant.
The crowd buzzed for the longest on DJ’s two 3rd-quarter defensive sequences in the Varsity game. The game had been tight the whole way…no team had led by more than four points. In front of the basket, DJ stood his ground and drew a charge, posting the 3rd foul on Nashville’s star player. In our corner of the crowded gym, Flight fans cheered. Until Meg arrived, no one cheered louder than Mrs. Pipe. Mrs. Keller quietly paid rapt attention, while sticking to her knitting. Connor, Kevin, and Ethan’s dads exchanged strategies with me.
On the next Warrior possession DJ found himself in the same situation, and again he tried to draw the charge. If successful it would send the player to the bench, giving Flight a huge advantage in the tight game. This time no foul was called, and DJ flopped to the court in vain…much to the delight of his “friends” in the Flight corner. Quick-witted Mrs. Pipe beat me to the punch, saying he earned a statue at the next day’s Academy Awards. When later quizzed on the episode, he defended his play.
Moments after DJ’s flop, he was knocked down while driving to the basket. In an ironic reversal of fortune, it was DJ limping off the court, hurting so bad he couldn’t shoot his own foul shot. It was his substitute Philip’s made foul shot that started Flight’s 26-12 run to win and end the game. Flight’s next basket, a Travis three-pointer, gave the good guys the lead for good.
Later the Flight play-of-the-year broke Nashville’s back. Travis was dribbling back to the top of the key, running the offense. His eye was caught briefly by Josiah, to his left on the wing, beyond the three-point line. Jose broke for the basket, passing two defenders. Travis hit him with a no-look pass, and Jose executed a reverse lay-up while being fouled. His free throw gave Flight a 66-55 lead with 1:30 to go. The Warriors only managed one basket the rest of the way.
Josiah…26 pt, 9 RB, 2 assists, 6 steals
DJ……17 pt, 4 RB, 2 assists, 3 steals
Travis…17 pt, 9 RB, 3 assists, 2 steals
Matthew…3 pt, 5 RB, assist
Philip…3 pt, 2 RB, assist
David…3 pt, rebound, assist
Q……2 pt, 3 rebounds
Gerald…4 RB, steal, 3 blocks
The JV Boys tipped off their 9 am game against Crown in the bitterly cold gym. DJ was the only hot thing going, scoring 7 of Flight’s 9 first-quarter points, and 8 of the 12 second-quarter points. Up 9 at the half, Flight cruised to a low-scoring win. Crown’s Matthew Leiner blocked one of Will’s shots, but Josh’s 3rd-quarter rejection brought a smile to early-bird Danielle’s face (later she would have 4 blocks of her own).
DJ……15 pt, rebound, 3 steals
Connor…8 pt, 5 RB, 3 assists, 2 steals
Josh…4 pt, 3 RB, assist, 2 steals, block
Jake…4 points, rebound
Kevin…2 pt, 4 RB, assist
Jonathan B…4 RB, 2 assists, steal
Isaac…5 RB, assist, steal
Will…3 rebounds, assist
In the afterglow of the dramatic Varsity win, the Nashville JV squad seemed even more formidable, with height to spare. It was quickly obvious to Coach Hoffer that DJ wouldn’t be needed. Philip’s ball-handling and defense were welcome additions, however, and Connor’s all-around play notched him another double-double.
Flight blew open the game with runs in each of the first 3 quarters: 15-3 in the first, 10-0 in the second, and 17-3 in the third. Faced with their biggest deficit of the game, 21 points, Nashville closed the game with a 22-6 comeback.
Connor…24 pt, 11 RB, 3 assists, steal, block.
Josh…8 pt, 3 RB, 3 steals, 3 blocks
Philip…8 pt, 4 RB, assist, 3 steals
Isaac…6 pt, 2 RB, 2 assists, 2 steals, block
Jake……2 points, rebound
Kevin…2 pt, 6 RB, assist, steal
Will……2 pt, 2 RB, steal, block
Jonathan B…rebound, assist, steal
Then the Girls took the court and beat Crown for an unprecedented 4th time, for the third place finish in the Qualifier. Kara had her usual steady double-double, and Hanna Neal filled the stat line for her best game of the season. When Hanna gets open, instead of calling for the ball or waving her arms, her eyes light up and she flashes a huge smile.
Courtney played her hard, hustling game, threading the needle with several excellent passes. Danielle’s dominating presence forced her less-physical opponents to back down. After missing the previous night’s game, Audrey played hard, coughing all the way. Kathleen nailed a three-pointer, and Katelyn hustled her way to three quick rebounds.
Not backing down, Hannah Mac came back from a tough game, taking it to the basket on a one on one situation against a larger, older opponent. Knocked down without a foul call, Tex hopped back up and got back on defense. Only then did she mouth “it hurt!” to her mom.
Flight took off on a 20-6 run in the first half, then extended their second-half lead to 22 points with another 12-1 run. Crown mounted a futile 26-6 comeback run. With a slim 3 point lead, Kara iced the game by sinking a foul shot with 8 seconds left.
Crown…6…15…42 (I missed the 3rd quarter score!)
Kara…21 pt, 12 RB, 3 assists, 5 steals, 6 blocks
Courtney…8 pt, 7 RB, 5 assists, 4 steals, block
Danielle…6 pt, 8 RB, 2 assists, 4 blocks
Hanna N…4 pt, 6 RB, 2 assists, 3 steals, block
Audrey…4 pt, 3 RB, 3 steals
Kathleen…3 pt, RB, assist, steal