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6/17/06 at Sacramento

Final score: Storm 74 – Monarchs 76 (L) (6-6)

Attendance | 7331

Submitted by | BrrringIt

We have returned safely from the 95 degree armpit that is Sacramento. Ah, I can breathe again.

I have to start by saying we had no negative fan experience this time. I think winning the championship last year took the chip off their shoulder so they feel they have nothing to prove anymore. They were all quite gracious and polite.

We went down to the court when the Storm was warming up and ran into DJ Shorty and a couple other Stormfans. Yay! Got a couple of pics of Sue signing autographs and even got Barb Turner to smile for the camera.

Our seats were near the corner by the Storm bench. We were just behind Alice and Rachel, STHs from Seattle who we ran into down there last year, too. Management must think Monarchs fans are complete idiots because the jumbotron and the female arena announcer both have to spell out in great detail everything the fans are supposed to think, say, and do at any given moment. When the Monarchs' tunnel huddle before shootaround appeared on the screen, the announcer said, "There they are. They are in the tunnel. Soon they will be coming out. They are your Sacramento Monarchs!" I think she must be a moonlighting kindergarten teacher. Then she leads the crowd in pronouncing each player's name. "I'll say, Ti-cha. You say Pen-i-cheir-o." They practice each starter's name like that so they can all do it in unison when the players are introduced. When she said, "I'll say Yo-lan-da. You say..." right then, the snack guy came up the stairs and yelled "PEANUTS". We cracked up. When they did the actual player introductions and the announcer said, "Yolanda" we yelled, "PEANUTS!"

The anthem was sung by two tiny little girls (I mean, 4 years old) with amazing singing voices. And I don't mean those little girls with 35-year-old voices. I mean 4-year-olds who sounded their age but could really hit the notes. You could die from the cute. AD was visibly charmed by them.

They announced that Sue and LJ were named to the All-Decade team. Much love from the crowd. See, I told you they were being nice. But then, they announced Ruthie Bolton and Ticha were honorable mentions and you'd think they won the freakin' trophy all over again. The crowd went bananas and Bolton & Penicheiro were presented with these big-ass bouquets of flowers in center court like they were g.d. homecoming queens or something.

The refs are the 3 blind mice: Kurt Walker, Clark Stevens and Shelly Nakasone. I don't really have too much to say about them. A lot of their calls really pissed off the Monarchs fans, and I really like that.

Anyway, so the game finally gets started and we are looking fine. Just great. Crisp passes, nice finishes, we have the lead at the end of the first quarter, 21-16.

LJ has a small brace on her left knee. She is very slow getting up and down court and getting knocked around a lot. She only has 6 points in the first half, but muscled here way in to add 11 more in the second.

But Betty. She played Bettyball the first half. Passing when she needed to, creating her own shots when she had to, she was fabulous. But they stuck Kara Lawson on her in the second half and she smothered B-Money. Between that and her own scoring, Lawson killed us at both ends of the court in the second half.

Speaking of smothered, Sue could NOT get a look to save her life. Penichiero was all over her. I bet Sue has nightmares about her tonight. I know I will (but in my case, it's about the eyebrows). Sue made some bad passes like usual, but she also usually more than makes up for them in the scoring dept. Penichiero made sure that didn't happen.

Their dance team comes out during timeouts and throws those crummy, tiny basketballs to the crowd, who naturally go crazy. I glanced up at the screen during this pandemonium and on the screen is the word, "SCREAM". I am not kidding. Oh, yeah. And during free throws, it says, "STOMP."

We played some more Storm Basketball in the second quarter, and stretched our lead to 40-33 at halftime.

The halftime show was kids doing martial arts set to music. Hard to describe but kinda cool to look at.

I felt a win coming . I even told Mini we were gonna break this thing wide open in the third and run away with it. Good thing I don't predict things for a living. We kept our lead in the third, but some big plays by the Monarchs got them within striking distance.

Our shooting went cold in the fourth quarter and the Monarch capitalized on that. Turner's free throws kept us close but it wasn't enough.

Later, while we were waiting at the gate at the airport, Mini looks behind us and goes, "There's AD." I'm like, riiiight. Good one. She insists so I look and she's not kidding. Soon the rest of the team shows up and I tell Mini quit staring and just do your Sudoku book. But I can't resist peeking around now and then. AD walked by us to go to the counter and I said hi to her on her way back. She said hi.

Alaska has this special status program called MVP. Mini and I always joke that LJ is a member. When they call boarding for first class and MVP passengers, Sue, LJ and Anne go up to the gate. "It's true," Mini says.

When we get on the plane, Sue and LJ are sitting together in first class. "Nice shirt," LJ says to me. "Good game," I say, and meant it. Sue rolls her eyes at me.

We had to pause next to AD's seat on our way to our seats. She had the entire emergency exit row to herself. I never felt safer on a flight in my life. She asked if we were visiting people in Sac. She seemed genuinely surprised when I told her we just came down for the game. She asked if it was the first time we did that and I told her no, the third. She asked if we planned other trips and I told her about New York and Washington in July. She said that was just great we fit the Storm into our vacation plans. I didn't tell her it's the other way around.

We ended up sitting behind AD and across from Barb Turner and Wendy Palmer. It was a great time.

When I passed AD on the jetway, I said, "see you on Wednesday." And she said, gracious as always, "Thanks so much for coming you guys." I said, "my pleasure." And it was.