The ice crunched under the thousands of shoes marching into the gym Feb. 5. The Manute Bol-like piles of snow were massive. Daunting. Flip'n freezing.
Yet the Blizzard of 2011 didn't keep a record, sold-out crowd away from Merrillville's gymnasium on that frigid evening. No. 1 Munster at No. 2 Merrillville.
It didn't get any better than that. Did it?
As the boys basketball season comes to a close, here are some leftover thoughts to celebrate a great winter. And some awards from yours truly.
The Hanlon High 5 Trophy: Goes to River Forest coach Jason Quigg. After a record-setting season, three of his starters left for greener pastures. Mooo. Three wins? Who cares. Great job Ingots.
The Three Blind Mice Plaque: Goes to the crew that worked the Michigan City Sectional championship game between Merrillville and Valparaiso. No disrespect to the Vikings. They played great when it mattered most.
But for those who were there, you know something else was going on. It was like one ref, who has a long history of barbing with Pirates coach Jim East, wanted to send him into retirement with a smirk.
It worked. Congrats. The Zebra Hall of Fame will open in Gas City in 2015. Can anyone say first class?
The Sportsmanship Ribbon: Goes to almost no one. The fights. The jaw jacking. The pushing and shoving. It was like Neanderthals in Nikes. Lew Wallace, E.C. Central, Whiting and North Newton were all put on probation by the IHSAA for fisticuffs.
Can't we all just get along? Or play hockey?
The Tougher than Tar Trophy: Goes to Hanover Central's Zach Rush. After tearing his ACL right before the season started, the standout guard put a Cyborg-like knee brace on and kept running. Or trying to. At about 60 percent, he still led his team to 13 wins and big-time respect from this old baller.
The Cherokee Breakfast Plaque: So Morgan Twp. beat Bowman to win the sectional. I had predicted that the Eagles would fly. But I didn't say I would buy breakfast for anyone ... this year, anyway.
Congrats, fellas. Well done. I do know this. It would be cheaper for me to buy eggs for everyone in Morgan Twp. than everyone in Malden buying breakfast for me. Man, I need an Abdominizer.
The Best Student Section Crown: OK. Munster or Bishop Noll. Bishop Noll or Munster. Both great, yes. But this honor goes to the kids from north Hammond. Jesus and a bottle of ketchup. 'Nuff said.
The Best Team Trophy: OK. Bishop Noll or Munster. Munster or Bishop Noll. This is close. But Munster's stifling defense would be too much for the Warriors. I agree with Austin Richie on this one.
Best Game-Night Jacket Jewel: OK. Joe Otis or Jim East. Jim East or Joe Otis. The Valpo coach's lime green jacket is a wing-dinger. Classic. Like looking into a time machine. East's purple threads are the same but with a lot more wear and tear.
I'll go with East's, because I'm going to miss it. A lot. I hope the last quarter of your life is filled with great passes, good team defense, 100 percent hustle and one last thing.
A net that's always hung after a made J.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.