BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – Cover enough scholastic basketball games and you witness some things – some of which you have seen before and some of which you haven’t.
On Wednesday night at Northern Lebanon High School, this reporter saw something he had never seen before in a game of basketball, on any level. And it was one of the most profound examples of hustle, desire and heart I have ever witnessed.
With the home-standing Vikings protecting a six-point lead and less than a minute left to play, Tulpehocken executed a time-saving measure that has become common place in high school basketball. While taking the ball out of bounds following a made NL free throw, a Trojan player rolled the ball along the court floor to a waiting teammate – in this instance the game clock does not until it is touched by a player in-bounds.
But seemingly out of nowhere, Northern Lebanon guard Richard Iwuagwu came flying up the floor and dove head-first at the rolling basketball, near the Tulpehocken foul line. After sliding seven or eight feet on his belly, Iwaugwu did manage to get a hand on the ball before a Trojan guard alertly picked it up.
In the playing of the game, the play did not directly affect the outcome, more than cause Tulpehocken to use a few more seconds off the clock. But Iwuagwu’s effort brought the home crowd to its feet with a thunderous ovation and drew celebratory chest bumps from teammates.
It was a move that had the power to inspire fellow Vikings for games to come.
After the contest, Northern Lebanon head coach Gary Bouchette referenced Iwuagwu’s play, calling it ‘something you can’t coach’. It was certainly something that could not be replicated in practice.