By Kevin Harvison
Bid to become the Wayman Tisdale’s back-to-back state champions comes up one game short for McAlester’s Team Crush. In a memorable season filled with emotion and excitement, the 4th grade girls Team Crush’s hopes came to a disappointing end. The team had reason to believe they would again be the states number one team going undefeated throughout the regular season at the McAlester Boys and Girls Club. They handled everything a well-coached Future Stars team had to offer as well as teams from Stuart and the surrounding area. However, fighting a triple battle between players having the flu, pneumonia and a very tough team from Weatherford proved to be too much for their immune system to overcome. As disappointing as it was not to repeat as the state champs, the young ladies added some memorable moments in a short amount of time to look back on. First, considering they were the defending champs, making it to the finals with a target on their backs in a tournament against some of the state’s finest 4th grade girls’ teams isn’t an easy feat. Second, a week after winning the regional championship from a formidable Future Stars team, the team was awarded a trip to OKC to perform an exhibition game against one of Missouri’s top teams on the Oklahoma Thunder’s very own basketball court courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club of McAlester. Third, later that evening, Team Crush was honored with greeting the Thunder players as they exited the tunnel to face off against the Chicago Bulls. And finally, one week later the team’s efforts landed them in the state tournament with eight of Oklahoma’s toughest league teams to do battle with. In the first meeting, Team Crush faced the mighty Lindsey Bombers which proved to be more than a battered Crush team wanted. Narrowly pulling out a victory, the girls reinvented themselves just in time before facing a very athletic OKC Rattlesnakes team. The team’s performance was as grand a performance a coach could ask for. Crush’s defensive strategy was one the Spartans of Sparta would’ve been proud to call their own. The girls were so smothering that the director of the tournament asked that they show mercy for their opponent. The girls were on such a high that they became their own worst enemy. By the time they had made it to the finals, they had nothing left in the tank. Having battled the flu for three weeks and riding an emotional roller-coaster ride, pressure mounted and put the team in unchartered territory. Team Crush girls dug deep as they always have in the past but, this time was different – they returned empty handed. The lack of practice and team concept, combined with travel and excitement had taken its toll. The little team from the McAlester area schools settled for second best this season. Overall, it was a satisfying experience and the kids have aspirations of returning the championship back to McAlester.