One of the absolute best things about being a sportswriter is covering the games. Why? Because you never know when you show up to one that you’ll see something great or memorable. The games, they are what the fans come to see. Let’s face it: There’s too much money in pro sports and too much ego in too many pro athletes who don’t truly appreciate how lucky they have it to be paid thousands or millions to play a game for a living.
The purity of high school sports, though, that’s what has always drawn me to them since the time I was a boy until now, because on Friday night Cameron Graupman had a moment on the basketball court that she’ll never forget. It’s one that her teammates and coach, Jeff Eichas, probably never will either. Host Greece Athena had just taken a 68-66 lead in double overtime and Hilton had the ball out of bounds with the length of the floor to go. There were just 5.4 seconds left on the clock. Eichas called time out. I don’t know what he drew up, but it probably went something like this:
“Get the ball to Cameron and get out of her way, girls.”
Graupman took a simple inbounds pass and she was off to the races, dribbling upcourt. She lost her defender near midcourt and let fly from the right wing.
Hilton 69, Greece Athena 68.
What a moment. What a memory. And what a shot!
Graupman also made some big free throws. You can read all about that and how her teammate, Lauren Anten, scored 26 points. Graupman is just a junior. She came up to the varsity as an seventh-grader, was part of a Section V Championship squad and is already committed to Niagara. Good for her. She may play 100 more games in her basketball career at Hilton and in college and never do that again. What a great night for her and her team, whose slogan is “Our Time.” Even if the Cadets, who are a Class AA contender for sure, don’t capture that sectional patch, they’ll always remember Friday.
Pardon my flashback: I made a shot once in double OT, a jumper from the right baseline. It forced a third OT. I was a senior. I averaged maybe 4 points a game, not like Graupman, who averages 15 and has become a scorer even more than just a shooter. My high school team, Canastota (Section III), went on to beat our archrival that night, Oneida, 55-53, in three OTs. Their team was a lot better than ours. Would have beaten us nine out of 10 times. But I’ve never forgotten that shot, or the 32-footer a former teammate named Steve Bisha banked in at the regulation horn to force OT.
Graupman will never forget Friday, either. Congrats.