Sunday, March 08, 2009

Thrill of victory

"Fans carry off St. Mary's senior Nick Groce after his layup with four seconds left lifted the Saints, 62-60, in the MIAA B Conference championship at UMBC's RAC Arena. Groce scored a game-high 26 points."

Showing up early rarely does any good. Most of the time I find myself sitting around shooting frames of things and people that have nothing to do with the story or event I am about to shoot or playing on my Black Berry.

However, showing up to wrestling early saved me from not getting any art and having the paper suffer without a picture. Well, last week it led me to witness one of the greatest basketball celebrations I've ever seen.

I was assigned to shoot the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference basketball championship between No.2 St.Frances and No.3 Calvert Hall. This was supposed to be another thriller, as their last match-up saw three overtimes.

As per usual, I arrived early. In this case, an hour early since I needed to get some head shots of the coaches and a pair of players from each team for future use in all-metro selections pages.

When I walked in to UMBC's RAC Arena, I trekked around their upper level loft as the MIAA B Conference championship between St. Mary's and St. Vincent Pallotti came to a close.

With less than two-minutes left in the game, I simply wanted to see how the close match would end.

Time ticked away and it was a tie game until senior guard Nick Groce finished a left-handed layup with four seconds remaining. It was an amazing shot and I am still shocked he made it.

St. Vincent Pallotti had a chance to win at the buzzer, but a shot from the top of the three-point line hit the front rim which in turn gave the Saints their third conference crown in the past seven seasons.

The place erupted. I figured since I was there I'd shoot the jubilation and dejection as it unfolded in front of me. It's not everyday you get to shoot a championship game.

This celebration was unlike I'd ever seen though.

Most games, be it pro, college or prep end with little or no emotion. While I hope and pray that a player will fall to the ground hiding his face, tears or run around with their jersey off as they celebrate, when it comes down to it, there typically is nothing more than a quick smile.

However, this game was different. The crowd rushed the court and raised St. Mary's senior Nick Groce into the air after his layup with seconds left gave his team the championship victory.

It was something you would see in a movie and shooting from above gave me a great vantage.

It was a great game. I was lucky to be walking in and have a nice vantage point. Not to mention, one helluva finish.

I moved the photo and it ended up running along with an action shot from the game I did cover.

So what is the lesson of this post? It pays off to show up early. Sometimes.


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