by Troy Sparks
The showdown between two Milwaukee City Conference rivals had everything you would expect in a boys basketball game. It was packed, noisy, drama-filled and enough storylines to write a chapter.
Why would you expect anything less when you see a game between Milwaukee Vincent and Rufus King? Even though this is irrelevant for this column, but did you know that both schools were named after Rufus King and Harold Vincent? They were both MPS superintendents in different eras.
King was ranked No. 2 in the area and Vincent No. 8. You don’t get the best view in watching a basketball game at King from the second floor balcony in their cracker box gym. I was told the gym holds about 900. I know that’s not true.
Since the game was held at an MPS gym, the policy from a few years ago is still in effect. No ticket sales at the door on game day. You have to buy them in advance at the competing schools. If you have a cell phone, MPS security can tell you to take it back to your car. Spectators have to take things that might set off the metal detectors out and put them in a basket. I’m pretty sure that people who see a game at an MPS gym already know the routine.
So why do I have a problem with this policy? Because everyone who attends a City Conference basketball game in an MPS gym don’t cause any drama. They come to see a game and leave. Some of them might hang around in the building for about half an hour to talk to some of the players and coaches.
Any postgame incidents, which were isolated and caused a lot of nonsense, made some people stay away from attending a basketball game at an MPS gym. The police are there at every event. Security is present. The majority of people who watches a game at an MPS gym know how to behave. Whatever, I guess rules are rules.
The Jan. 6 game at King was action-packed from beginning to end, and it took a little longer to decide the outcome. The Vikings led throughout the first half and took a 38-35 lead into the locker room. Junior Deonte Burton, a Marquette recruit, had 10 points at that point. He finished with 15.
In the second half, Vincent pushed their lead to 11 points at 47-36 after a layup by Demetrius Woodley with 5 minutes 8 seconds in the third quarter. The momentum Vincent had shifted over to King in a three minute span. Chris Stovall’s free-throws for King tied the game at 48-48 with 3:08 left in the quarter. Two straight baskets by Vincent’s Jabari Hobson gave the Vikings a 52-48 lead.
After a three-point basket by King’s Nic Stokes late in the quarter that cut a 56-50 Vincent lead down to 56-53, the game got out of control as tempers flared and there was pushing and shoving. Ordered had to be restored by the referees. They sent both teams back to their benches while they assessed the situation. Technical fouls were called on two Vincent players and one technical foul was called on a King player. A dunk at the end of the third quarter by King’s Arroyo Edwards woke up the sellout crowd as the Generals took a 58-56 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Vikings had a 69-64 lead with 2:50 in regulation when they lost Jamarice Thomas on fouls. Hobson fouled out with 2:22 left. Two of the three key players from Vincent had to watch the rest of the game from the bench and another key player joined them a few minutes later. Burton got a big rebound and was fouled over the back by King’s Anthony Hatfield, who fouled out, with 26.1 seconds left in regulation. Burton made one of two free-throws for a 72-70 Vincent lead. Edwards’ basket with 10.7 remaining on the clock tied the game at 72-72. Vincent couldn’t pull off a last second shot as the game went into overtime.
After Woodley fouled out with 3:09 left in overtime, it was all she wrote for the Vikings as they were on a losing end of an 80-75 defeat.
“Hats off to King,” Vincent coach John Allen said. “They fought back. We just made some rushed shots, some bad plays and a couple of unforced turnovers, and that’s how the game came out. We’ll watch film and regroup and do the things that we need to do to get better.”
Said King senior guard Austin Malone-Mitchell, “We knew they were going to come at us hard. We expected all of that. We operate in bunches. They were going to have their runs and we were going to have our runs.”
There normally would have been a chance for Vincent to even up the score in their rematch as in years past, but unfortunately, this is the only time they face each other. And since both schools are in separate sectionals in the playoffs, the only way they can square off again is if both teams make it to state.
Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut took a leave from absence from the team while they were still on their road trip out west. Inquiring minds wanted to know why he deserted the team. It was a family situation in Australia that needed his attention.
Some of you might speculate that Bogut is burned out with basketball and needed a break. Or was the losing by the Bucks enough for him to take some time off? We can’t assume any of that. It was a family issue, and that was that. He will be back around the time the Bucks return home from their longest road trip of their shortened season. At this rate, maybe everybody on the team should ask for some time off, one at a time, to refocus on their goal to make the playoffs.
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