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Heartwarming Small-Town Romances and Thrilling Mysteries

On the local news last week, I heard my alma mater, Black Hills State University, was playing basketball against the local college, West Texas A&M University in the Division II championships in nearby Canyon. My family, none of whom were here to go with me, encouraged me to attend the game. I’m not one for getting out at night and going to events. I don’t like driving after dark especially in places I’m not familiar with, but the opportunity seemed too great to pass up. For only $10, I could go see a college-level basketball game, eat popcorn and hotdogs (an extra expense), and have a good time.

I got to the arena early so I could get a good parking spot. I drove my son-in-law’s car because if we (BHSU) beat them, I didn’t want my South Dakota truck to be marred by sore losers. I found my way in but didn’t see where to reach my seat. I followed signs that led me up two unlit flights of stairs to a door that much to my relief, let me into the gym. I made my way to my seat six rows from the midcourt floor. To my left was a door opening to where I first started looking for my seat. Oh well, I needed the exercise going up the stairs.

The teams had just started warming up, and I had time to look around the arena. It wasn’t nearly as large as the Texas A&M one but very nice. The seats were comfortable, an especially important consideration for me. I saw a man in a green coat with the BHSU logo on it. I’m not one for approaching strangers but felt compelled to introduce myself to him as a Yellowjackets fan. He greeted me warmly and told me to move down to the BHSU cheering section behind their sideline bench. Few people occupied that area so I joined them. I was warmly greeted by several people who asked why I was there. When I stated I was an alumnus spending the winter in Amarillo, I was immediately part of the group. I visited a lot with a lady named Kathy from Lubbock and one named Dr. Nichols. We talked about Spearfish and basketball games and how alumni were scattered all over the place and how small a world it is. Dr. Nichols and I visited for quite a long time. When I asked her what she taught at BHSU, she replied she didn’t teach there. She was the president of the college. I knew she looked familiar but had no idea who she was. I felt quite privileged to get to visit with her. She’s a very nice lady.

The game was exciting, and the biggest point spread was 5. The game was tied at the half. I went to get my hotdog, but the line was so long, I would have to miss part of the game. I had to forfeit that part of my experience and returned to my seat hungry (I didn’t eat supper before going).

The teams were evenly matched, and both played really well. It’s a shame either one had to lose, but with 3 seconds left, BHSU went up by one point. After a time out, WT got the ball and went down to the basket. The guy made a shot as the buzzer went off and made it. The arena went wild, thinking WT had won by one point, but the refs signaled they had to look at the replay. It took them a long time to look at it. After four minutes that seemed like an hour, the ref walked out on the floor and signaled “no good.” The ball was still in the guy’s hands when the clock went to zero. BHSU won by one point. One VERY lucky point.

I felt so bad for the WT team. They’d played their hearts out and only a fraction of a second caused them to lose. But I was thrilled our BHSU Yellowjackets had pulled it off and won.

I watched them cut the net from the hoop. As the last of the WT fans filed out, they wished us good luck at the next level. I made sure they knew how impressed I was by the WT Buffs. They played a really good game. Good sportsmanship on both sides makes the game even better. Next year, the outcome may be completely different.

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