(03/01/2006)
By Gaylen Duskey

realfang@citlink.net

The long and winding road called the 2005-06 basketball season ended Monday night.

Not as the Calhoun Red Devils may have wanted it to but it ended on an up note nonetheless.

Calhoun lost to Wirt County 52-49 in the first round of the regional tournament (Region 4, Section 2). It was the 20th loss in 23 games.

And if one just looks at those numbers - the loss and the 3-20 record - Monday night's game was just another failure in a season of failures.

And in a way Monday's game was a microcosm of the entire season: Fall behind, fight back, fail at the end.

Calhoun did fall behind as Wirt County shot a ton of free throws and hit a bunch of three-point shots to take a lead that got as high as 14 points before Calhoun started its comeback.

But the comeback was classic Calhoun.

The Red Devils whipped out the press for the Tigers and it worked quite well as Calhoun forced turnover after turnover cutting the score quickly in the fourth quarter. Only the Tigers' prowess at the free throw line (and Wirt seemed to shoot a lot of free throws) kept them ahead.

The Red Devils managed to cut the Tigers lead to three late in the game and twice had a shot at tying it.

Both times the shot missed.

But that was only the game seen at the surface level.

The game at the next level said volumes about Calhoun's basketball team. That's where things were really interesting.

Take for instance how each player performed:

Senior Gerwig played his last game with all the heart and court smarts that he has ever shown. He was the titular leader of the team. It was his team. In his last game he nearly willed the Red Devils to one more game.

Senior Tyler Shartiger showed his grace - both physical and mental - on both ends of the court. He also showed his speed by running down Wirt players on numerous occasions. He was an all-LKC wide receiver and he showed that athletic prowess all night long.

Steven Cunningham was another all-LKC football player. He was an outstanding defensive player . a very physical player. He was a physical basketball player too as he literally tore the ball away from others en route to a rebound. He also had a nice touch around the basket.

Michael Sullivan, Calhoun's fourth senior, did not get in the game against Wirt. That's too bad because he probably has more spirit than any Calhoun athlete to come down the pike in ages. Marines call it espirit de corps. Calhoun just calls it Sully.

Sophomore Matt Houchin made this team his team. He will be the "Man" next year for the Reed Devils. His improvement in every aspect of the game over the past month has been amazing. He's going to be a field general like his older brother Zach was . only with a little better shot as his game-high 16 points shows.

John and Jacob Dodd showed improvement as the season went on. John is fluid and quick around the basket. He is also strong defensively as was illustrated by his block of a shot by Wirt's Alex Wilson. Jacob is the surprising one of the two and he can really hurt any team that doubts his shooting touch. During halftime warm-ups he was shooting a little baby hook shot. He should try that in a game since he didn't miss a one.

Josh DeWeese and Andrew Norman have unlimited potential. Just a sophomore DeWeese needs to add some bulk and experience. He should be a good one before graduating. Norman, a junior, is smooth and quick and has shown all the tools. Once he starts using all the tools at the same time he could be outstanding.

Lucas Morford, J.J. Bremar and Jesse Kessler all showed flashes off the bench. None played against Wirt but all had their moments during the season.

Travis Godfrey. He has leukemia. It is in remission. It is tough for him to play. But he has played and he has asked no quarter. He probably never will.

This was a long season. A season where things did not turn out the way they would have wanted . Nobody wants to go 3-20. But it was a season where they learned what was inside them. And when they battled back from 14 down to within a whisker of beating Wirt County - showing their mettle.

Be proud guys because you never quit.


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