I am supposed to be unpacking from this past weekend’s tournament. I told myself I was coming in here to get all my clothes to throw in the wash but I just don’t feel like it. As you can tell by the title of this post, we lost. In the quarter-finals. In the last minute of the game, because life can be both dramatic like that and isn’t always directed by people who love happy endings. Or maybe that for every come from behind Cinderella story, there has to be a losing team. I don’t know. The point is that it hurt to lose this one and I’m not ready to let this loss go. Unpacking seems like acknowledging that we didn’t make it and that it’s over. I just don’t think I am ready for that. I already talked about it ad nauseam on the ride home with my teammates and they’re all just as broken up as I am. Nobody had anything uplifting to say about it and it was like driving home with a black cloud over us. I think I am going to wallow a little longer and write about it here.

This is what happened:

We were doing well the whole first half of the game. The other team was good but it felt like we were making the shots we needed to and everything just seemed to be clicking.Then our point guard, Natalie,got her finger jammed pretty bad by the ball right at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. One of the other women tried to get her some medical attention but Natalie waved it off and said she was fine. She tried to keep playing but was clearly struggling. Then she missed an easy shot and it looked like she just couldn’t get a good grip on the ball. We called a timeout and she petitioned pretty hard to stay in. By then we were losing by 20 points—after having been up by 12—and knew we needed to bench her.  It hurt to do it as a friend and a teammate but we all knew that the goal was to win. She stomped off to the locker room but I knew she’d come around. She would do the same thing, and we were sure she’d get over herself to see that once the game was over.

We brought in another player off the bench and got back within 2 by the end of that quarter. We were so very close! The crowd was really energized and things were starting to run on all cylinders again. It was a bit of a long shot to think maybe we could come back and win with our best player down but it didn’t feel like it in that moment. I had the ball in my hands in the last minute of the game. It was a clear shot but on the long side. I passed it off to one of the other women and she took off with determination. We could force the game into overtime and maybe win. As the clock wound down, she took the shot.

And she missed.

Game over. We lost. I don’t know if I would have made my shot either—in my egotistical moments I think I might have, but I know that statistically I don’t always. I do know it was a straightforward shot for her and she knew it too. She cried most of the way home. So many things. If only Natalie hadn’t gotten hurt. If I had tried to make the shot—even if it didn’t go in, we might have gotten the rebound and a second attempt. If we’d gotten that shot and a chance at OT.

Ugh. As I said, a lousy loss.

But I guess I should start unpacking. My uniform probably doesn’t smell all that great and being in an enclosed suitcase can’t possibly be helping it. Maybe I’ll have better news next time.