Western Wins a Heartbreaker for the Second Time This Season Against West Lafayette
Sometimes things are just not meant to be. Last night it took regulation and two overtimes to decide the sectional opener for Western and West Lafayette. There were times in the last minutes of the game that it looked like both sides had the advantage to take the victory. Then something would happen that would switch the momentum back to the other side. If I was at the game clearly as a fan I would have been excited that I had just seen a fantastic game. I was not there as a fan though. Even though you shouldn’t as a photographer I had a clear rooting interest. It is amazing how far I have come in the last few years. When I moved here I didn’t know where each team was. Now I clearly have a rooting interest for West Side. Sometimes that can come back to haunt you though as it did last night. What will also haunt me was a terrible call at the end of the game that ended up costing West Side the ballgame. The refs called a foul on West Side on a play that could have gone either way. Then they gave Western a basket on a shot that occurred way after the spot where the foul did. That foul shot was the difference in the game. A normal no call late in the ballgame turned into a game winning three point play. A long time ago I learned from Ron Luciano the famous baseball umpire a little secret. The more animated the referee during a call the less sure they are of the call. When he was not sure he would sell the call. Both referees really sold that call letting me know that they were really not sure of it. Maybe they just wanted to go home after two overtimes.
West Side Goes Down, But Not Without a Fight
Every player has an end to their playing time. Last night the five seniors at West Side had their season end. Senior Trev Parker did not play due to injury, but the other four seniors all had a great senior moment to go out on. This ride was going to end sometime. That was inevitable. It could have ended last night, or at the state finals, or anywhere in between. Someone was going to walk out of that gym disappointed last night, and it was West Side. As I said though each of the seniors had a moment where they brought the team back. While spelling Nai Carlisle for a stretch senior Kyle Gick made a great acrobatic layup while being accosted by two Western defenders who were much taller than Kyle. Jared Snoble had his hustle moments as well as a key three to get West Side a bit closer during a comeback. Bradley Bittles had what I call a Bittles moment a few times during the game. He is the master of the putback in traffic. He saved a lot of possessions with his rebounding. He finished the game with 18 rebounds. The biggest senior moment last night had to come from Tyler Nycz. With West Side down two he nailed a three from near the top of the key. The referees declared that he was fouled after the shot so West Side was awarded the ball out of bounds. After a small stretch of play Tyler was open in front of the West Side bench where he nailed another three. Six points in one trip down the floor, and the door was now open for West Side. That was a huge moment in the game when it appeared as if Western was going to start to pull away. Tyler finished his final game with 12 points. This was a great senior class. They will be hard to replace for West Side. I enjoyed watching them play for the past three years. Seeing the emotion displayed by Coach Wood after the game I think he would agree with me.
The Underclassmen Do Their Part
I don’t want to short the underclassmen here. They played a big role in the game as well. They are also the future of this West Side team. Nai Carlisle is clearly the star of this team. This team is bigger than its star, but he is the star. He was fouled hard early in the second half, and I don’t know how well his shooting arm was after that. He was definitely in some pain for the rest of the game. He still tried his hardest to give West Side the win. While Tyler Nycz will be leaving the team his brother Charlie will be back next season. That fact alone may be reason enough for me to come back and shoot a few games. Charlie is the type of player that a photographer loves. He does many things that look great on camera including diving on the ground for loose ball. He is a hustler that makes me look good as a photographer. He played his heart out for his brother last night. The emotion between the two Nycz boys after the game just reminds you how much these kids have invested in it.
Here are a few photos from the game last night that I liked for one reason or another. I have a gallery of over 200 posted on my website here. This may have been the longest that I have gone without looking at my sports photos in a while. Last night I just was not quite ready to relive that game again. Today with a little perspective I went through the photos trying to find some great moments for these kids. So here is the final round of bonus photos for the West Side Red Devils this season.