by Ryne Nelson / @slaman10
Our opponent in Game 3, Rack City, won their previous game by 46 points—a margin of victory just one point less than our team’s season-high, 47 points.
After getting washed in Game 1 and losing a physical battle in Game 2, we badly needed to get in the win column. While our Ls came at the hands of legit championship contenders, we had yet to play our biggest trump card: contributor Jeremy Bauman.
Back in New York City after a couple weeks working the Global Basketball Summer League in Vegas, Jeremy looked energized when he marched on to the court before Tuesday evening’s game. With range for days, “JB for 3” would stretch the D and allow our slashers to operate.
As our starting five—myself, Jeremy, web designer Shanti Garcia, XXL digital content director Carl Chery and editorial assistant Pete Walsh—headed out to center court, Pete stopped us in our tracks. “We’re not going to bring it in?” he asked. “Straight up,” I seconded.
For the first time this season, we brought it in like a true team. “One, two, three… HEADBANDS!” Rack City had a size advantage. But with our 6-foot sharp shooter, we felt that we had a chance to beat anyone.
Jeremy unleashed a salvo of threes from the outside, and we jumped to an early lead. But Rack City’s best player, a guard named Andy Hoercher, kept his team in the game by muscling his way to the rim for high quality buckets.
Pete and Carl worked hard around the glass. Abe Schwadron subbed in and brought immediate energy to both ends of the court—diving for loose balls and drawing fouls against Rack City’s giants. Shanti, ever-consistent, displayed some very polished moves around the basket and in the mid-range.
We switched from man defense to zone nearly halfway through the first half, and Rack City quietly began to close the gap. After hustling our asses off in the first 20 minutes, we took only a shaky two-point lead into halftime, 21-19.
The brief two-minute halftime period did little but help us realize how exhausted we were. Unfortunately, Rack City had another gear and came out gunning in the final stanza.
Rack City began to kill us on the inside, taking advantage of their size and conditioning. Five players added points from the stripe. Rack City’s captain, Kai—although having an off-night shooting—got to the line a game-high seven times.
Jeremy cooled off, but nailed some long-range buckets to keep us within shouting distance. Carl came up big with back-to-back layups. We cut Rack City’s lead to four points, but that was as close as it got. Our offense began to sputter as fatigue took a tighter hold of us.
Pete’s knee (which has been operated on three times) clearly was bothering him. XXL executive editor Jayson Rodriguez and video director Tarik Sykes couldn’t find their rhythms offensively. Abe connected on some impressive driving floaters and (amazingly) managed not to collect his fifth foul… but we eventually surrendered, 54-43.
The game was a tale of two halves. Our squad of writers and editors didn’t pace itself for a full 40 minutes.
Pete finished with a line nearly identical to last week’s: 8 points, 10 boards and 2 steals. Jeremy led the team with 16 points, but on only 28 percent shooting. Carl, who hasn’t shot under 50 percent this season, dropped a cool 8 and 6 (with 5 offensive).
Abe played an intelligent game, contributing 4 points, 3 dimes and 2 rebounds. My 4 assists were remnants of an otherwise quiet night. I could do little to slow Rack City’s Hoercher—an observer said he “swiveled around [me] time and time again like a dreidel.” It was true: No one was stopping him, as he confidently finished with 22 points on 8-11 shooting.
Having played the league’s three best teams makes our loses feel slightly better. But losing sucks. So best believe we’ll be coming out with a vengeance in Game 4. Our opponent, Brosanity, played in ABC’s weaker division last season, but have since added key cogs, including a big who’s averaging 17.5 ppg on 70.8 percent shooting.
It’ll be a helluva game once again. Stay tuned.