Monday, August 3, 2015


In 1970 Wallace's basketball team was known far and wide as being made up of great football players. We were playing the Coeur d'Alene High School Vikings on their home court. The Vikings had a great basketball team composed of great basketball players. Imagine that. They did have one great football player, Loren Schmidt, who was also a good basketball player. One Viking was 6' 6" tall. Bob Blum and I were a shade over 6 foot and we were the tallest on the Miner team. Bob and Hugh Marconi (Hugh may have actually been a little taller than either Bob or I now that I think about it) were both basketball players, but their abilities were far overshadowed by the rest of the Wallace players who were great, well fair to middling any way, football players.

The game was going about the way one would expect a basketball game between football players and basketball players would go. It certainly was going in the manner that the Vikings planned. They were up about 70 to 28 at the break between the third and fourth quarters. Coach Norm  Walker was discussing the situation with us in the 'huddle'. He was 'politely' explaining to us that we would have Hell to pay if they scored 100 points. (Norm before taking over the reigns of the Wallace High School athletic program had been the highly successful coach of the Mullen High School basketball team in the 60s...quite literally one of the very best, if not the best, high school basketball team I have ever seen) Thus we implemented the 'Patented Wallace Stall'. I say 'patented' because it was a planned stall, one that Coach Walker had taught us to use when we were far ahead (a rare occurrence), but which we modified extemporaneously that night. 'We' figured that it was a sure fire, can't miss, way to keep them from reaching the century mark.

The players on the court thought things were progressing quite well until, with about 30 seconds left in the game, Coach Walker called a time-out. That seemed to us out on the floor executing the Patented Wallace Stall as being more odd than the usual type of  'strategy'.  When we got over to the huddle, Coach Walker simply said look at the scoreboard. The Vikings had 98 points. Enough said.

Back out on the court we again commenced the Patented Wallace Stall. The ball whipped around the perimeter and ended up in Hugh's capable hands. When Hugh got the ball, he made several textbook pivots and he was double-teamed, maybe even triple-teamed. He was in the proverbial 'pickle'. At that moment a strange look of calm came across his face. It caused the rest of us on the floor, who had a 'front row seat' to begin to twitch and sweat profusely. We had seen that look before on Hugh and we had no idea what he had cooked up.

With 5 seconds left Hugh pivoted one last time, this time towards the Viking basket at the other end of the floor. None of us dared to breath. Somewhere a baby cried and a woman screamed. The Viking fans were going WILD; they wanted 100 points. Then as if in slow motion, Hugh leaned over and...rolled the basketball ever so tantalizing towards the Viking basket. None of the Wallace players moved, the twitches were by now violent shakes and puddles of sweat were accumulating around each of our feet, but all of the Viking players sprinted towards the basketball as it was rolling towards their basket.

The quickest of the Vikings reached the basketball with just two ticks left on the clock. I know because one of my eyes was firmly locked on the player and the basketball and my other eye was firmly locked on the game clock.  As he grabbed the ball the clock ticked again. He straightened, it seemed extraordinarily fast, to launch a shot from about the free throw line. Just as he prepared to shoot...the buzzer sounded! Game over!

The Wallace team collectively started to breath again and, ever quick thinking, without any sort of signal or gesture, we all simultaneously seized the moment and we proceeded to give each other 'high-fives'. We then marched, casually, off the floor...victorious. Each team member, heads held high and flashing huge smiles, basked in the cries of anguish and nashing of teeeth coming from the Viking fans and team! The scoreboard indicated that the Vikings had won the game but everyone, especially the Wallace players, knew who had really won. Hugh had turned potential agony of the wrath of Coach Walker into a celebration!

1 comment:

Cedar Street Kid said...

Love this story. I was not at that game, but wish I had been. Good going, Huey!