My Favorite Photos From This Past West Lafayette Basketball Season
This past year I covered many of the games of the West Lafayette Red Devils. It was a fun year to cover for many reasons. I saw some great comebacks, and was able to shoot in a few venues. I also was able to cover a great group of five seniors as they played their last games as a Red Devil. Most of those guys I had seen play since their sophomore years, and I was able to see how they grew as young men and athletes in that time. I think that covering amateur sports has a few advantages. One of those is seeing how the athletes grow during their time in school. That growth is great to watch in high school, and it continues in college. The list below may not be my best photos of the year, but they are the photos that I think represents the year the best. Sometimes you just like a photo for one reason or another even if it is not the most technically brilliant photo. Unless I end up working a post season game my basketball season ended with West Side at Peru last Wednesday night. I thought that I would recap a bit of the season here for you.
20. The first game of the season that I saw was the game the night before Thanksgiving at McCutcheon. West Lafayette did not win the game, but it did provide a couple of cool moments for me. One of them was this one with a wide angle lens as my nephew Kyle Gick was getting ready to inbound the ball.
19. When West Side played at Central Catholic near the end of the season they took a large group of fans with them. The student section really made sure that they would be seen as they wore neon clothes. I liked the away fans as a background here as sophomore Charlie Nycz shoots a three pointer.
18. One highlight of the season was watching the West Side game at Frankfort. It was very cool to see a game in Case Arena, but it was more fun to watch the great comeback that they had. For a while West Side was becoming the last minute team. Every game had a lot of drama in it. That is great for a while, but every now and then you want a blowout win.
17. If you wanted drama the last game of the season had it as well. The Red Devils battled Western into two overtimes. In the end they could not answer the late game three point play of Western. The photo above though kind of represents the hard fought battle between the two teams. Neither team had it easy, and I am sure that they were both exhausted after giving it all for as long as they did.
16. If you follow this blog at all then you know that I enjoy these battles at the free throw line. Most of my favorite shots from a game come from this shot. There are always little moments in every battle that are pretty cool.
15. West Side has a great coach in Dave Wood. He really loves his players. Nothing showed me that more than the way that he showed us after the season ended. His emotion during games made for some great pictures throughout the season. This one though I loved as he gave his seniors some love on senior night.
14. Bradley Bittles is the guy that you want on your basketball team. He does what he has to do to get the tough rebound. His ability to keep a trip down the floor alive helped the Red Devils this season. His presence in the post will be tough to replace next season.
13. As important as Bradley Bittles was under the hoop Jared Snoble was from beyond the arc. His clutch threes helped narrow a few opponents leads this past season. When the Red Devils were on from outside they were a tough team to beat.
12. Another sharpshooter was Tyler Nycz. I chose this photo for him because he can make threes even with his eyes closed. You can also see how well thought of he is by the way the opposing coach is already letting his team know not to leave him open.
11. Here is another example of a tough rebound by Bradley Bittles. Sometimes you just have to go in with everything, and he did that more often than not. Keeping a possession alive is a big way to help your team, and he did that all year long.
10. Now we are to the top ten. We will start that top ten off with Kyle Gick. He provided a spark off of the bench all season long. A fresh set of legs that would go in and do whatever the team needed him to do. I will miss watching him play ball.
9. One moment that I like, but was unprepared for was at Central Catholic this season. They shut the lights off for introductions which I had no idea that they were going to do. I scrambled to find a setting that I thought would work, and ran over to capture the intros. I loved the look of the lights on the red jerseys of the team.
8. I could probably have an entirely separate post of Nai Carlisle’s drives to the hoop. He was a fun player to photograph this season, and it will be fun to watch him grow as a player.
7. Here is a wider view of one of those battles at the free throw line. I love the body language and the looks of anticipation during these battles.
6. I had to put a shot of the seniors on this countdown. They were a fun group to watch play over the last three years. After they won on senior night against Rossville I asked them to get together to make this photo. This is of all of the team seniors so it means a little more to me. This was a special squad, and it will be interesting to see how they keep in touch over the years.
5. Earlier I talked about how rough the Western game was. It was the sectional opener when the stakes are high, and the players played like they were high. Here three players grab a rebound at the same time. I love the looks of determination on the players faces. This is just another way that you can see how valuable Charlie Nycz and Bradley Bittles were. They were not afraid to get into a scrum to get a ball. Charlie is only a sophomore so he still has time to improve. He will be fun to watch the next two years.
4. As I said earlier Coach Dave Wood is a fun coach to photograph. He is very animated during the game as he tries to get his point across to his players. I made a few huddle pictures this season, but this one is my favorite.
3. Here is another shot of Nai Carlisle taking the ball to the hoop. I was testing out a lens at the time, and I made sure that I was in position to make photos of the action right under the hoop. Of course the players parted, and Nai drove right at me. Nai just has a style of play that looks great on camera.
2. Nai Carlisle was the one that would score the most points during a game nearly every game. You could count on that, and sometimes take it for granted. I think that Trev Parker may have been the most valuable player though. When the opposing teams would cheat to cover Nai, Trev would take over the game. His presence was missed greatly when the tournament started with Trev in the hospital. When he decided to take over the game he was fun to watch. This might be my favorite action shot of the season as Trev lets a floater go.
1. As I said earlier the shots will not be the most technically brilliant, but they will show a moment that I liked this season. This photo was made on senior night as senior Trev Parker started his senior speech. He opened with the line “I am just here so I don’t get fined” which cracked up his teammates. It is the moments like these that I will always remember for this team.
Even as I put this countdown together I found other photos that could have been on it. I saw the team play many games this season, and there were many memorable moments. Some of them are painful now, but over time I think that I will realize what a cool season this was, and how lucky I was to be there to document it.