A fist of a man in red makes contact with a man dressed in blue and immediately a swarm of security guards descend upon the the two men. Red is threatening to hit Blue again and Blue looks like he is about to jump over the seats to return the punch. And all the while, two teams are playing against each other in a basketball battle for a spot in the Final Four.
This is a scene I witnessed at the Elite Eight competition on Saturday in Anaheim where almost 18,000 people came to cheer on their favorite college teams, or like my family, just came to watch some great basketball. The atmosphere was electric all weekend but was especially amped up when the Texas Tech Red Raiders played against the Gonzaga University Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs were able to pull out a win over Florida State, 72-58, in the West Region Sweet Sixteen competition game on Thursday afternoon and the #3 seed Texas Tech was able blow out the #2 seed Michigan on Thursday evening by beating them by 19 points. After these two big wins, both the Raiders and Zags fans showed up ready to help cheer on their teams in the hopes of making it to the Final Four in Minneapolis.
Yet, even in the midst of this intense competition of Division I basketball teams, I was cheering for one team only and that was my Point Loma Sea Lions, who were playing in the Division II National Championship. I had my Looney Bin shirt on cheering for my team as I drank a Coke in the rooftop terrace at the Honda Center just a few hours before the game. I had people giving me strange looks as I was clapping for every foul drawn and every layup made as they were trying to figure out why I was cheering.
Michael Cooper, a former forward for the Los Angeles Lakers in the late 70’s and early 80’s, was speaking at this event, but my attention was turned toward the one television in the room that was playing the DII Championship game. Though I may have been the only one watching the game, I felt the energy of every shot by Tanner Nelson, every rebound by Ziggy Satterthwaite and every drive by Daulton Hommes. I was there to cheer on Josh Rodriguez as he drove to the basket for a last minute layup to beat the shot clock and I was there for every shot Preston Beverly blocked.
Because though I was at a tournament where these nationally known players were playing, I still have my own team, and my support of them trumps everything else. Even during Thursday’s later Sweet Sixteen game, I had the DII semifinal game where PLNU won against Southern Indiana playing on my phone while I was also trying to watch the game going on in front of me.
This was a legendary season for our boys and I was so happy to be there along the way cheering them on. I was proud to be able to say that Point Loma is my team and I might even throw a punch for them… maybe.