Analy-Miramonte, 2009: Fond memories of writer's block

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
I had a problem 362 days ago.
I had just seen an underdog team from the land of Lilliput overcome a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit on the road thanks to the exploits of a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard with a nasty chest cold who looked like, even when healthy, he could barely lift a bowl of spaghetti.
As a result, the underdog team which — oh, by the way, beat the No. 1 seed in the semifinals even though the No. 1 seed had about 27 guys who were 7-foot-5 — won the first North Coast Section title in school history.
Now, sportswriters live for stories like this. Adversity. David whipping Goliath. Scrawny hero. With an illness! It really had everything.
But after No. 5 Analy’s 76-73 overtime victory over No. 2 Miramonte in last year’s NCS Division III finals, I did my interviews on a tight deadline, sprinted to my car in the parking lot of St. Mary’s College, dove into the shotgun seat, opened my laptop and … wrote like crazy, right?
Actually, no.
I stared at the screen.
I had just witnessed an improbable, riveting, one-of-a-kind game and as I stared at a blank screen I kept thinking, “Where do I start?”
As my mind raced, I actually thought about what Rick Reilly has said happened after 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters. Reilly (a former journalism hero of mine who has, sadly, diminished a bit with time) said that after Nicklaus’ win, hordes of sportswriters stared at their computers in the press room, thinking, in effect, “Now how do I tell that story?”
Sometimes sports stories — whether they involve Jack Nicklaus or Max Fujii — become about much more than the result.
They become inspiring and magical and capable of capturing the imagination of people who wouldn’t know a free throw from a touchdown.
Tonight I’m going to cover Analy against Miramonte again, this time in the NCS Division III semifinals.
The story is much different a year later. The Tigers are the favorites and are playing at home.
But who knows what will happen? After the game, I could find myself staring helplessly at a computer screen and thinking about the 1986 Masters.
There are worse problems to have.