SPRINGFIELD — It was loud to begin with Friday night inside the gymnasium at Springfield High School. But the decibel level increased.
I’ve always been impressed with the way Badin’s student section travels to away games — in any sport. The Herd showed up as I expected for the Badin girls basketball team’s regional final bout against storied rival Purcell Marian.
In high school basketball, each team shoots at the basket opposite to their bench in the first half. I’d imagine that goes for the majority of basketball at all levels of play.
Badin being our coverage-area team in this one, I set up shop to take video, photos and notes on the side the Rams are shooting at.
It always turns out that the opposing team’s student section would want to be near their team’s bench or the hoop they’re shooting at in the second half — when the “12th Man” is needed the most.
My back was to a depleted Purcell Marian student section in the first half of Friday’s game. I think I counted — maybe — 10 Cavalier students at the beginning of the game.
And honestly, it crossed my mind, “Wow. Do Purcell Marian students care that their girls basketball team has a chance to make the state tournament for a third straight time?”
Well, it turned out they cared. A lot.
Inclement weather dropped a load of rain throughout the day, flooding portions of I-75. I left the house early just to make sure I’d make gametime. And I’m glad I did.
Friday rush-hour traffic didn’t mix well with parts of 75 installing swimming pools. I saw them. I drive through one.
Badin had to fight their way back through Purcell’s 12-0 flooding to start the game. The Rams faithful was loud. But so were the Cavaliers’ fans, who traveled equally as well.
I thought I had seen the best high school girls basketball game just days before between Lakota East and Kings in their Division I regional semifinal.
I was wrong.
Badin made its surge back into contention, and Purcell only led 34-32 with 3:42 remaining in the third quarter. Here’s where the Springfield gym’s octave levels went berserk.
A couple Purcell students began to sprint their way into the gym from the lobby during a timeout. Then a few more jogged in. The place began to erupt.
I had never seen anything like it before. For at least a full minute, Purcell students made their way into the student section stands.
The absent Cavaliers were here, now, and they came in droves.
It was told to reporters from Purcell coach Jamar Mosley that the buses carrying the students got caught up in the travel delay.
As they say, one play doesn’t change the outcome of a game. One call by the referee shouldn’t change the outcome of a game.
But I’m fairly certain that Badin was grabbing enough momentum from the first-half comeback to be able to run away with a regional championship had the flurry of Purcell students didn’t make their grand entrance.
The entire situation was something else. The environment had state title vibes written all over it.
Purcell ended up knocking off Badin 64-54 in front of the loudest crowd I’ve ever heard at a high school sporting event.
My bold prediction heading into Friday’s contest: one of those teams was going to win the state title.
My bold prediction remains the same: one of those teams is going to win the state title.