Tuesday Dec 22 2009
‘Tis the season... for hoops, bloopers
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… There’ll be much basketballing … Shots will be flowing … And the crowds will cheer… at least for teams in our area. December is the month where our local round-ballers hit the road for holiday basketball tournaments scattered throughout northern California and nearby states. Beginning in early December and lasting up to the final days before New Year’s Eve, varsity teams historically participate in anywhere from three to four tournaments before the beginning of league play begins. Nick Lewis, a senior on Del Oro High’s varsity squad, is a two-year veteran of holiday tournaments. He has played in the Kendall Arnett, Rocklin Holiday Tournament, Pleasant Valley (Chico) Invitational, and his own Del Oro Invitational. According to Lewis, his favorite tournament is the historic Kendall Arnett. “It’s the best one around,” he said. “I love playing in Placer’s gym. It’s the best gym by far.” Venturing away from the friendly confines of home can often bring on unique and unusual occurrences. Lewis remembers just such an experience from his trip to Chico last year. “We were staying at a host family’s home, and a huge rain storm hit,” he said. “The storm knocked out all the power in the area, so we sat around in the dark for two days doing nothing.” For Joey Jergo, a starting forward for two years for Colfax, his favorite tournament is also the Kendall Arnett. “It’s the oldest tournament in California,” Jergo said. “The tournament includes lots of local rivals like Bear River and Placer, so we are trying to do our best. We try to treat these tournaments like playoff games.” During his two-year varsity stint, Jergo has played in the Kendall Arnett, Hiram Johnson Invitational, Rosemont Round-Up and the Pacific Grove Tournament. Jergo’s most awkward moment occurred this year when he experienced the awkward silence of being in his host family’s car as they drove to the game. “The parents let us do what we wanted and they said that their house was our house,” Jergo said. “Then, I’m in the car with them driving to the game, knowing that I’m going to try and beat them that evening.” Harlem Globetrotters, be afraid… be very afraid of James Taber, a two- year varsity performer and starting forward for Placer. As a Hillman, Taber has played in the Rail City Classic (Sparks, Nev.), the Harlan Carter Tournament in Redding, the Folsom Shootout, the Antelope Christmas Classic and, of course, the Kendall Arnett. At last year’s Harlan Carter Tournament, Taber was chosen to represent Placer in a half court shot contest in front of the host school’s standing room only gym. Allow Taber, a Globetrotter in the making, to continue. “As I was walking out with a basketball in my hands to take my shot, I tripped over my shoelace,” Taber said. “I fell to the ground, but fortunately, the ball landed directly behind my head, much like a pillow, so I was staring up at the packed gym.” Anguish not for young Taber, for much like a Harlem Globetrotter, Taber stole the show. “As I was lying there, I pretended that I had done this intentionally. I snapped my fingers and pointed to the crowd as though this was part of my act,” he said. “I gathered myself, walked to the half court line and then made the shot. The crowd was pumped up and went crazy.” Whether it’s the fury of Mother Nature, the awkward silence between perfect strangers, or a misplaced shoelace… It’s the most wonderful time of the year.