Hulne: BP girls basketball team showed why high school sports are great

Published 6:29 pm Monday, January 23, 2017

Not every magic moment in sports happens with the game on the line. Some of them happen when the outcome of the game has long been decided.

Last week, the Blooming Prairie girls basketball team had a thrilling victory to celebrate, but they also had an equally significant moment in a game they had lost earlier in the week.

Last Tuesday night, the Awesome Blossoms girls basketball team was trailing by a large margin late in the game against New Richland-HEG as both coaches began to empty their benches. BP head coach John Bruns called a quick timeout and BP senior Jasmine Anderson, who doesn’t always get a lot of time on the court, came in and drilled a three-pointer.

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About a minute later, Bruns put in his youngest players to finish out the game and freshman Marti Snider drilled a deep three-pointer from well beyond the arc as time expired.

The game had long been over, but roar of the BP crowd and the smiles on the faces of Anderson and Snider showed that they would cherish the memory of their three-pointers for a long time. The best part of that game was that the entire BP team exploded in support of Anderson and Snider. It was great to see teammates support each other in the face of defeat.

“That’s been something we’ve kind of been working on this year,” BP head coach John Bruns said. “We were losing, but they’re still celebrating the opportunity for those kids to get in the game. It’s more important to make those memories and have that fun than a lot of things.”

After playing a close game against NRHEG for a half before bowing out, BP was able to pick up the momentum and play one of their best games of the season when they beat Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Friday. BP senior Kylie Forystek drilled a game-winning buzzer beating three-pointer in that game and while the shot was impressive enough, it was made extra special due to the fact that Forystek was playing with a broken nose.

Forystek came into the game with 15 seconds left when WEM came up with a steal and score to go up two. BP was running a last second sideline play when Forystek was able to catch and shoot from the baseline.

She had broken her nose with three minutes left in the game and she knew something was wrong as she tried to stop the blood.

“I knew it was pretty bad, because it bled more than I’ve ever seen a nose bleed. I kind of just clogged it in for a little while,” Forystek said. “Since I was only out there for 15 seconds, I didn’t have to stop the blood for that long. It was exciting and we played a good game the entire game. It was exciting to beat one of the top teams.”

Bruns said the win against the Bucs, who had beaten BP earlier in the season, is a big step for his program and he hopes his team continues to play together as a unit.

“Any time you get a close win like that it’s invigorating, but to do it against a team like WEM is kind of one of those signature wins,” he said. “We’ve kind of seen flashes of it, but we didn’t have any letdowns [against WEM]. We played possession by possession and good things happened.”

While the top scorers and play-makers usually make the big headlines and get all the fanfare in sports, it’s late moments like the one I witnessed last week in that NRHEG game that make me love being a sports editor.

To make a small confession, I was once that senior who rode the bench on most nights when I was playing for the Shell Lake Lakers back in high school in Northwestern Wisconsin. I truly relished every second I had on the court in varsity games and I still recall my only varsity points — a jump shot from the wing against Siren.

But most of all, I enjoyed being part of a team and working hard in every single practice to push the starters to a higher level.

That’s where sports get truly great. The average fan notices the super stars and makes the assumption that they are what makes a team good or bad.

But a truly great team is the sum of all of its parts. A great team is formed on long bus rides in the dead of winter when teammates bond over a shared experience or help each other study for a big test that is coming up. A great team is formed in practice, when everyone is drained and one player has to make a free throw to end that practice. A great team is formed when everyone is on the same page and everyone has the same motivations.

Mix in a little talent, and you’ve got a great team that make a lot of noise in the postseason.

The Awesome Blossoms have been supportive of each other every game this season. The bench cheers for the starters early on and when the bench gets in, the starters cheer for the bench.

That support has added to joy on game nights for BP.

“Our bench players are the most supportive people,” Forsystek said. “On Saturday we were down quite a bit and they stood and cheered every time we scored. It’s nice to have younger kids cheer for you and they look up to us. Everyone supports everyone.”

The next time you see a high school game go into ‘garbage time,’ don’t turn your back and head towards the exits. Stick around and watch what happens. Watch the joy on the faces of the players and watch how their teammates and the student section rally behind them.

You may just see a little magic.