Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 01/28/19: Walking All Over Kellogg, I Invented a Soup, Scrappy Kellogg Defeats Smooth Wallace

1. I strapped on my back pack around 11 a.m. and set out to walk the streets of Kellogg. I had overpaid a medical bill and was headed uptown to cash it at the bank. On the way, I stopped in at The Bean for a cinnamon raisin bagel and an Americano with steamed milk. I walked on the Trail of the CdAs a short distance to a place near the lumber company where the trail heads uphill and goes up behind the YMCA building. I got my cash at the bank and headed back down that trail and across Hill Street to Yoke's and bought milk. From Yoke's, I walked out to the end of E. Cameron and picked up medicine for Charly from the vet. On the way, I stopped at the Broken Wheel and could see that the last row, the Sunday row of hours, on the hours of operation decal had been scratched off. The Broken Wheel used to be open on Sunday, but no longer is. By the time I reached home, I had racked up over 8000 steps (about four miles).

2. Once home, I pondered the contents of the refrigerator and decided I could make a pureed soup based on the carrot ginger recipe I've made twice recently. On hand, I had onions, mushrooms, a carrot, a half of an eggplant, and milk. I dropped a chunk of butter in the Dutch oven and sauteed chopped onions, mushrooms, and eggplant. When tender, I poured some homemade chicken stock over these things, added the chopped carrot, and brought the stock to a boil, turned it way down, and cooked the carrot pieces until they were soft enough to puree. I pureed this mixture, returned it to the Dutch oven, added milk, and the result was a most enjoyable and warming cream of what I had on hand soup.

3. Last Wednesday's scheduled boys basketball face off between the Kellogg Wildcats and the Wallace Miners was postponed due to snow and rescheduled for tonight. I had wanted to see them play last Wednesday, but decided to go to Corby's where a bunch of my longtime friends were getting together, so I was happy that I could see them play this evening.

I walked to the high school (and back -- so that by the time I got home, I had accumulated 11,450 steps today or about five and half miles).

I saw Bucky up at the top of the grandstands, so climbed up and joined him.  The junior varsity teams were in the second half of their game. Kellogg won handily.

When the two varsity teams took the floor to warm up, in front of a maybe half full Andrews Gymnasium crowd, my insides sunk. Wallace's players looked smooth and self-assured. Their warm up jerseys had their names on the back and they wore fancy striped warm up pants. During warm ups, I zeroed in on two Wallace players because I had heard were studs: Zack Welch and Erik Brackebush. Zack Welsh's shooting range was incredible. In warm ups he was effortlessly dropping shots from at least twenty-five, if not thirty feet out. Brackebush was also a sharp shooter in warm ups.

Back in December, Wallace twice defeated Kellogg, 55-48 and then, oh my!, 54-32.

My hopes for Kellogg were not high.

I underestimated the Wildcats' fight. If Wallace started this game looking a bit smug, soon those smug looks were frustrated ones, even annoyed ones, as Kellogg employed a swarming, three quarter court pressing defense, and disrupted the Miners. I don't know what the Miners' style of play usually is, but Kellogg's defense, the way they forced Wallace turnovers, and the way they glued themselves to Wallace's shooters turned the game into a helter skelter tilt which the Wildcats thrived on.

Wallace's Zack Welch never really got untracked. Those shots he so effortless dropped in warm ups didn't fall during the game. Erik Brackebush, however, did get hot, but Kellogg continued to pester Wallace into handling the ball carelessly, throwing passes away, and missing shots.

I'd have to see the box score to know who led Kellogg in scoring. I really don't know. At some crucial junctures in the game, Kellogg got some clutch scoring from Graden Nearing and, late in the game, two daggers from Raiden Ricketts. What I enjoyed most was how Kellogg found open players inside thanks to screens down low away from the ball, neutralizing Wallace's size advantage. Yes, there were plenty of times when Wallace batted away Kellogg's passes inside or intercepted them, but the Wildcats stayed the course, didn't get discouraged, and in the second half scored some easy baskets by running their offensive sets.

All game long, I thought Kellogg would run out of gas, but Coach Nearing kept running different players in and out of the game and Kellogg didn't suffer when starters rested for a while. The players from the bench, particularly Tyrel Davis, were committed to creating mayhem and, in the end, it might have been Wallace who was worn out, not the Wildcats.

It was a night of players diving to the floor, rebounds being hotly contested, several tie ups, shoulders lowered, elbows flying, and Wildcat hands swiping at Wallace dribblers and batting balls out of passing lanes. As the game wound down and Kellogg began the inevitable parade to the free throw line, the 'Cats made their free throw, maintained a double digit advantage, and won the game 70-58.

The two times I'd seen Kellogg play earlier this season, they played much superior teams, Shadle Park (from Spokane) and Moscow. It was fun to see them play a team that was not far superior to them, but, I think, on most nights, a better team than Kellogg. But, not tonight. I don't believe in the saying "the better team lost tonight". Tonight, Kellogg was the better team, the more determined team, the more emotional team, the team with the most fight.

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