Loads of games last night, which means that everyone is in use, which means that I got bumped up to R in a pretty high-profile game: the best girls' team in our area, which has shown signs of vulnerability lately, seeing if it could continue an ungodly winning streak. I was excited to get switched to this game from being U on a less-high-profile game.
(Side bar: I never complain about my assignments, natch, since pretty much any game is a good game, an important game--note I said high-profile above rather than "big" or "important"--and all that. I like every game. But in the Sally Field "they like me, they really like me" sense, being R on this game means that I continue to make progress on big games.)
It turned out to be a tremendous night. It started with a very sedate blowout JV game. All I will remember from this one is that we set the coaches box a bit too high for the coach to coach effectively. I twice had to move an annoyed coach back into the box...but the box meant she was constantly having to look around the C official. Tough to coach. Partner suggested we expand the box at halftime, and we did.
Then came the varsity game--one which, due to the impressive nature of the favored team, had local TV and lots of fans present. Favorite did not come out and blow the game away early. It was tied after one. Favorite led by two at the half. There was almost nothing from either coach. Favorite picked up the first four fouls of the game, which led me to worry we'd have that coach on our backs for the game. But not so much--after foul #4, he barked at his kids: "Four fouls in three minutes. Use your feet!" Thank you, coach. I'd have said that myself if I could have.
Then, a big foul on favorite. Underdog sets a screen that favorite pushes through, knocking her over. She may have even lost teeth, at least according to underdog coach (fortunately, no blood). I reported the foul and beckoned coach. Favorite coach actually said to me "She was moving!" I hope my smirk wasn't too bad when I gave the only response I could: shaking my head and saying "no."
Halftime, partner said I was going too far downcourt as C on press. I probably was...I was trying to stay ahead of the pass by a step or two, but upon reflection, that's 2-person thinking. There's absolutely no issue in being beaten downcourt on the press. I'd rather be a step behind that play than a step in front of it.
Underdog has a great third quarter. Favorite can't put it together. Underdog is up by four after three quarters, and I'll be damned, I'm presiding over an upset that would rattle the entire area, one that would make the newspapers all over the area--maybe even the state. And we're doing an awesome job. It doesn't really feel like I'm the R--we're a 100% team out there. Not much to say after three except "we're doing great, guys, keep calling what we're calling." I can only recall one or two coach complaints all night, and only the one at me. As I wait for the fourth quarter to begin, I remind myself...stay in my area and do a good job.
But the thing is, in this, one of the more high-profile moments I had experienced in 11 years of doing this, I felt 100% calm and with it. I would NOT have felt this was as recently as 3 years ago. In fact, comparing my mental state at the only really high-profile game I had
in my former big-city home, it's not even close. I owned this one tonight.
Favorite came out and hit some threes, underdog turned the ball over, and favorite managed to win by 6. One perhaps-controversial call I had with a few minutes left--a travel on favorite after she caught the ball on a fast break but before she took it in for a layup. Several short toots of the whistle and stated "Up here, she traveled." (Why did I say "up here"?) I stand by the call, but I wouldn't turn down another look at it.
In the final few minutes, as underdog fouled in a futile attempt to get back for the upset, I found myself grinning. Part of it was a cat-ate-the-canary grin...we got out of this without a single big issue. Part of it was just complete satisfaction. I was trusted with this game, and I showed I was worthy of the trust.
And part of it was my knowledge that this was my last varsity game of the season, and that I'd get to ride this high all summer long. It just felt awesome. Didn't really have a game all year that I felt bad at the end of. I'll talk about this more in my year-in-review post later on, but I'm really happy with how everything went this year.
If ever I become disillusioned and pissed off and want to quit officiating (and it will inevitably happen, as I'm sure it does to all of us), please remind me of how I felt after this game. There's really no feeling like it.
THINGS I DID WELL: Called the right fouls, great partner communication
THINGS TO WORK ON: Less verbiage at spot, stay home on press as C
NEXT UP: I officially finish the HS year with a girls' freshman game on Thursday.