Come through in the clutch lately?

Jan. 28, 2008

by Aaron Schultz

In sports, there is a lot of talk about big moment players, and those that seem to disappear when the game is on the line.

Locally, we got a rare glimpse of not just one, but two big-time, step-up performances at crunch time, both by one HLWW junior.

Laker junior Keith Diers hit two game-winning 3-pointers in a span of a week to propel the HLWW boys’ basketball team to a 5-0 Central Minnesota Conference record.

And wouldn’t you know it, I missed both of those shots.

The first one came Jan. 18 against Pierz. Well, I was on vacation for that one. Luckily, fellow sports scrib Jesse Menden covered for me and got a perfect shot of Diers taking the shot.

Then, less than a week later, Diers did it again, nailing a 3-pointer against Maple Lake Thursday, breaking a tie game, and giving HLWW the win.

This time, I was at a Minnesota Newspaper Association banquet in the cities.

Normally, I don’t go to the banquet, but this year, I received the best sports section award – yeah, I have to do a little bragging.

While I missed both shots, and the pandemonium that ensued, it still got me excited to think about it.

This brings me to my subject for this column – coming through in crunch time.

Over the years covering the local sports’ scene, I have seen my fair share of kids coming through at that big moment in a competition, and I have also witnessed big-time players failing to come through at that crucial time.

Ultimately, making that big shot, or coming up with the game-winning hit is less important to me than seeing that kid that wants to be there.

Sports is a competition, and every athlete that really has that burning desire to compete wants to be in that situation.

Whether it is putting up a game-winning shot attempt, or going for that crucial spike in the fifth set of a tie match.
That is what really separates a good athlete from a special athlete.

It is easy to score 40 points in a game when you are trailing by 30, and the other team has cleared its bench.

But put a kid in a situation where he absoloutly needs to make this shot, with time winding down, and his team losing. That is where their true heart comes shining through.

This got me to thinking about some of the biggest, clutch moments I’ve witnessed on the local sports scene, and I’ve seen several.

One big-time performance that stands out was the state tournament Josiah Hagemann had for the Lakers’ baseball team when they won the state tournament.

Another is Joe Kley hitting a home run at the Region 7C amateur baseball tournament just last August.

On my blog, I’ve put up a new one that is asking for your input on what was the biggest, local clutch performance. Please visit it, put up the one you remember, and I’ll talk about them in next week’s column.

Top 100 movie quotes

The top 100 movie quotes picked by ESPN continue, with quotes 65 through 61.

• 65: “If there’s magic in boxing, it’s the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.”

Another quote from the movie “Million Dollar Baby.” While I haven’t seen the movie, the quote is pretty good, and makes me want to watch the movie even more.

• 64: “I’ll make it.” Great quote from a great movie, “Hoosiers.”

This just might be the greatest sports movie of all time, and while the quote is pretty simple, in the context of the movie, it is fabulous. It should be higher.

• 63: “The most important thing to remember is to protect your quarterback – me!”

Yet another very good quote, this time from the movie, “The Longest Yard.”
Every time I think of this line in the movie it makes me smile. Very deserving of being on the list, pretty much right where it is.

• 62: “Wax on. Wax off.” It was only a matter of time that this quote made the list. The movie, as if I even needed to say, is “The Karate Kid.”

I loved this movie growing up, but I tried to watch it last year, and had a hard time hanging through it.

Still, the quote has to be one of the most recognizable of any in a sports movie, and I have a hard time believing that it is not higher.

Although, I would probably put it right about where it is on this list.

• 61: “And you’re always talking about, ‘Muhammad, you’re not the same man you were 10 years ago.’ Well, I asked your wife, and she told me you’re not the same man you was two years ago!”

Shocking, I haven’t seen the quote this movie comes from, “When We Were Kings.” But, this is a movie I wanted to see, and have just kind of forgot about it.

The quote is pretty good, but I’ll reserve judgement until I actually see the movie, which is about the great Muhammad Ali.