Schuck's Clipboard

Champion's character reveals itself in Trail Blazers

John Wood Community College sophomore forward Chandler Bevans, right, embraces Trail Blazers coach Brad Hoyt as he leaves the floor for the final time Sunday. | H-W Photo/Matt Schuckman
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 9, 2020 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 9, 2020 12:56 am

They bared their heart and soul for all to see, showing their frustration when shots refused to fall and imploring the crowd to get involved when the shots finally did.

They shared their laughter and love, embracing the pregame rituals and time to warm up with focus and frivolity the same way they embraced each other when the season came to an abrupt end.

And the believed in something bigger than their individual talents and goals. They bought into a vision that made them crumble and built them back up.

As head-scratchingly difficult as that was to understand at times and as frustrating as it was to lose more than most of them ever had, they stuck together to make a run at a championship.

That's what made the John Wood Community College men's basketball team different. And special. And certainly one of a kind.

There won't be a national tournament appearance to celebrate, Sunday's 76-58 loss to Parkland in the Region 24 championship game guaranteeing that. Yet, the continued understanding of what it takes to be a champion makes up for that.

It takes everything.

Heart and soul.

Love and laughter.

Commitment.

Understanding.

Hard work.

Trust and belief.

And even a little luck.

The Trail Blazers didn't have any of that Sunday, shots clanging off the rim at a higher rate than they hit the net. They came in the flow of the offense and from spots the Trail Blazers wanted those shots to be taken.

They never fell. John Wood missed eight in a row to start the game, and five more at a crucial point of the second half. All told, the Trail Blazers made only 31.3 percent of their shots, while the Cobras made 52.7 percent.

So it wasn't much of a surprise which team won. Nor was it a surprise to see the Trail Blazers fight to stay in the game at every juncture.

Brad Hoyt is fiery and fierce along the JWCC sideline. He's loud at time, demonstrative at others and intense from start to finish. He also has some homespun charm, a way with words and the kind of trustworthiness it takes to recruit players capable of doing all the things he expects.

He tests them and challenges them and ultimately brings out the best in them. The Trail Blazers lost the eye test to a number of other Region 24 squads, but those teams couldn't match John Wood's character.

That means more at the end of the day that the ability to play above the rim or look like a model on the runway. Those things don't carry value over into everyday life.

Character does. And the Trail Blazers' character always will be trophy worthy.