From the editor
I can no longer live with the guilt. I must confess my sins. I doused the basketball in a vat of buttermilk before tip-off of the OPRF boys basketball game against rival Fenwick in the fieldhouse on Thursday night.

That’s not all, I single-handedly turned away over 100 fans. They weren’t happy when I looked them in the eye and said, “It’s not about fire code or security issues, it’s about body odor!” I skipped the CD several times so the OPRF girls dance squad was baffled before their big number at halftime. I tried starting the chant: “WE-ARE, SLEE-PEE! WE-ARE, SLEE-PEE! LET’S-ALL-GO-HOME!”

Yes, I was looking to sabotage this thing. You see, I was extremely tired. I blame a hefty intake of Chinese food from Ben Pao at lunchtime and some cold-weather walking from store-to-store. It was my wife’s birthday, and since I wouldn’t be around in the evening, that afternoon we celebrated with lunch and Christmas shopping in Chicago. Twice I fell asleep on the couch waiting for game time. But no matter what I did to derail this bonanza, it still turned out to be an awesome showcase of high school basketball surrounded by good, clean school spirit. Oh, and its excitement had me up until the wee hours. Al Allen’s rusty voice still echoes in my head.

The competitive spirit of the two schools didn’t start with the game itself. It began during the National Anthem-who could scream the loudest at its conclusion. Then the game began and the noise level peaked.

There were seven turnovers in the first minute of play, hence the mention of a buttermilked b-ball. The Huskies had a 15-8 lead after the opening quarter. When John Comfort answered with a 3-pointer in the second to try and spark his Friars, Iman Shumpert was there to counter with a trey of his own. Shumpert, who looked and was playing like an athlete possessed-complete with chest thumping and proud posturing after awing displays of athleticism-seemed in control of this game. Even when the Georgia Tech-bound senior wasn’t scoring-a stretch that went from near the end of the third to well into the fourth-he was directing traffic. The 6-foot-4 guard finished with five dazzling assists that had me refitting my contact lenses.

“He was the man tonight,” said Shumpert’s teammate Dan Barnes, who bucketed nine straight free-throws in the final quarter to seal the victory. Ah, you weren’t so bad yourself, Barnsie.

The Dog Pound was boisterous, so much so that the stenciled faces of real Huskie dogs that adorn the pillars holding up the fieldhouse actually turned red. They did! Check them.

The Comcast television cameras were on hand, and there was the cheerleading backflip showdowns during timeouts. The crowd spilled into the caverns of OPRF’s airplane hangar-like gymnasium. Athletic Director John Stelzer really did have to turn away over 100 people-and not for hygiene reasons. Stelzer said he didn’t have enough security personnel on hand.

It was a game. It was a good game. It was a great event for the community.

Now, who do we need to talk to about a football game between these schools?

CONTACT: bspencer@wjinc.com

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...