Pitchin' with Pritch: Look like you know and play on

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The college basketball season will be over when this comes out and since this is Sunday night I don’t know who won it on the men’s side of things. 

This has been a busy weekend for the Pritchett family and probably the first time in a whole bunch of years that I didn’t watch both games of the men’s Final Four’s first night. 

Many years I would hustle back from the Ogallala track meet to get ready but this year we had a way more important event to attend. My wife had spent the week in Illinois doing some church work and she took one of our cars. On Friday I took off to meet her in Lincoln so we could attend our oldest grandson’s first communion service at St. Michael’s on Saturday where Calen attends school and church. 

On Friday night, we watched the women’s Final Four and then Saturday after the communion service we were on the road back to Grant. Pushing the speed limit just a little, I still couldn’t make it for the entire Auburn and Virginia game. 

I had found it on the radio and pretty much thought Virginia had it won when I passed the Grant golf course. By the time I got the TV on Auburn had gone on a run and looked as if they were going to pull off one of the greatest comebacks since the 1968 Plainsmen, but the end of that game had a whole lot of stuff that went on and some of it was just plain hard to grasp. 

First there was the situation with Auburn being in the lead and all they had to do was not let Virginia hit a basket. It looked even better when Virginia bobbled a pass and the ball bounced off the Virginia player’s leg and he went back and picked it up with both hands and then took off dribbling again and no whistle. 

Pretty sure that was a double dribble but the key here is look like you know what you are doing and if there is no whistle, play on. 

Then as time was really running out made a pass to a teammate in the corner and the player got the shot off and the Auburn players jumped into him a little as he was coming down and then the whistle blew and a foul was called. 

The Auburn player, Kyle Guy, was the player fouled and he was a season 81 percent free-throw shooter, but this was three free-throws that would win the game and he hit every one of them like a champ. So what looked like a tremendous comeback that would put Auburn in the finals of the NCAA tournament turned into a one-point loss and the season over for Tigers.

Auburn had gone 6-6 before the NCAA tournament started and then won their first game by one point over No. 12 seed New Mexico State and then defeated No. 4 Kansas, No 1. Seed North Carolina and No. 2 Seed Kentucky in OT. 

The Tigers probably did not have their best player in the Final Four as Chuma Okeke tore his ACL in the Sweet 16 round and did not make the trip to the final four. It was a tough way to lose but you got to give the Virginia kid a lot of credit for putting in three free-throws with all the pressure you could have in any one situation that had so much riding on shooting ability.

Sunday night another close game was played on the women’s side as Baylor was matched with Notre Dame. 

Another game that looked like it was over when Baylor was up 17 in the second half but then with 9 minutes left, Baylor loses their best player and Notre Dame makes up the 17 points and actually has a chance to win it but missed a couple of free throws at the end and Baylor ends up winning the National Championship. 

Notre Dame had a former Nebraska player Jessica Shepard playing for them and she was one of their better players.  She started her high school career in Lincoln, moved to Fremont and then played two years at Nebraska before transferring to Notre Dame when Connie Yori was let go as the Nebraska coach a couple of years ago. 

She played very well in both of the final four games but did miss a free-throw late that would have maybe put Notre Dame in the lead for good.

If the men’s finals on Monday night were as good as the rest of the games have been, it will be a great ending to the season. I did not think the finals would be a game putting Texas Tech against Virginia but that is one of the reasons I don’t win any of the bracket games. 

You win by picking the most winners, not just some of them. One of these days, I will get the rules straight.


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