score: Storm 74 Monarchs 76 (L) (6-6)
by | BrrringIt
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