Monday, March 21, 2011

Role Players Shine on Saturday

Memorial Spartan Guard Brendan Ortiz

What a great Saturday night to be a fan of Bucky and Madison Memorial basketball.  Your thumb could go numb hammering away at the "jump" button.  And what a night for role players.  Mike Bruesewitz and Tim Jarmusz had great games against Kansas State, combining for 19 points and 7 rebounds, and the Badger bench outscored KSU's 15 to 5.  Watching Bruesewitz emerging as a force for the Badgers in the tournament this past week was like being back in grade school watching a time lapse filmstrip (pre-video days) of a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis.  A bright orange Monarch.

But the best feel good story was the job done by Spartan junior guard Brendan Ortiz against the De Pere Red Birds in the High School Class A title game.  Ortiz forced the first overtime with a three point shot with 2.1 seconds left, after having gone 0 for 4 on three pointers earlier in the game.  Where most underclassmen might have thought taking the final 3 point shot of regulation after having worn the collar from beyond the arc was not something they were really eager to do, Ortiz felt he was due.  Could he top that?  Yes, by extending the game into both the second and third overtimes with clutch shooting from the free throw line, and then scoring the winning basket as time ran out with three of Memorial's top players having fouled out.  Memorial at one point inserted a sophomore into its line-up in the third overtime who had recently been called up from the junior varsity.  It was that patched together at the end for Sparty.

It is hard to imagine the pressure that Ortiz was under at the end of the first and second overtime periods when he went to the free throw line facing the end of the Kohl Center filled with his Memorial schoolmates and had to sink all four free throws just to keep Memorial in the game.  A courageous performance.

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