Playoffs? completes perfect season, captures NAYBL crown

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Jake Purdy

BY JAKE PURDY (’17)

After finishing off the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record, the Playoffs? Went into the playoffs with one thing on their mind, the NAYBL championship game. After beating Three Kodak in the first game of the tournament 45-12, they carried their momentum into the next weekend of the tournament. In the final weekend they faced their toughest test, a double header for the semi-finals and the championship game.

Extra pressure was put on the team when senior and regular season leading scorer Luke Grace missed the Semi-final and Final game to go on the cruise.

“It wasn’t easy without Luke Grace,” said senior TJ Carney-DeBord.

Normally the team has two subs but with Luke gone they only had one sub which made it very difficult for them to push through the fourth quarter. This left them at a disadvantage to the other teams such as JCB who had 4 subs off the bench.

The tired Playoff? team pushed though JCB with ease to reach the final game. The championship was an instant classic that basketball historians will certainly write about for decades to come. The final “was the toughest challenge of the year” according to senior Kyle Otterstedt. Both teams only had ten minutes to rest between games, resulting in a slower paced and more deliberate game.

The Playoffs? were the only team in the league that wasn’t comprised of New Albany players, making them a target for New Albany students and fans. Powered by the support of their classmates and the extra sub they had off the bench Air Norton jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first quarter. Playoffs? fought back to tie it at 16-16 at the half.

The beginning of the fourth quarter was dominated by the Playoffs? But Air Norton used their personnel advantage to strategically foul and get back in the game.

“We don’t practice very often especially free throws,” said senior Thomas Krock, who went 2 for 8 from the line.

After an Addison Conway free throw to extend the Playoffs? lead to 3 points. With time running down, Air Norton came down the court and one of there players pulled up for a deep 3 and sunk it, tying the game with 2.6 seconds left.

“The gym erupted, there were players from other teams running on the court screaming I have never heard that gym so loud,” said senior Sam Dunham. Players from the other team were fake choking themselves out to mock the Playoffs? because they thought the Playoffs? had choked and blew the game.

The deep 3 pointer sent the game to a 2 minute overtime period to decide the winner of the NAYBL. In overtime Air Norton continued to foul to send players to the line and after four made free throws and a field goal by Carney-DeBord, the Playoffs? were up by 1 with the ball in Air Norton’s hands with 9 seconds remaining on the clock. Air Norton had a miscue while advancing the ball down court and the Playoffs? hopped on the loose ball and held out for the 38-37 victory.. After the clock hit zero the gym went silent and there were scattered boos while Playoffs? took pictures with their four foot tall trophy.

The Playoffs? faced their greatest challenge in the Championship game, but grinded out a hard earned victory to complete their perfect regular season.  Although all 7 members of the Playoffs? are graduating and will not be able to play next year, their legacy might live on through a group of current juniors who have expressed interest in carrying on the tradition.

Recently rumours have emerged that the NAYBL might make the league exclusive to players from New Albany. Just as NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain’s towering height forced the league to modify the rules and implement a three second rule for players standing stagnant in the paint, Playoffs? has similarly forced their league to modify the rules based on their dominance of New Albany teams.

The perfect season is one of the more exclusive clubs in the canon of sports history. The 1972 Dolphins still crack open a bottle of champagne when the final unbeaten team suffers a loss during the NFL regular season. Hoosier nation rejoices when an unbeaten goes down, signaling that Indiana basketball’s 1975-1976 perfect season remains the pinnacle of hoops flawlessness. Among these relics of perfection, Playoffs? season stands alone as the single greatest season in basketball history. Scribes and scholars will forever agree that no other team contained more talent and played with more heart. Their legacies will live on as long the game itself exists.  

The Playoffs? achieved their goal of re kindling their love for the game of basketball. Although rec leagues are not all about winning, bringing home the hardware never hurt anyone.