Analy basketball: A scene that stuck with me

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
In the final minutes of Analy’s 74-58 loss to Center on Tuesday in the NorCal playoffs, Tigers coach Brett Page pulled his starters from the game and put three sophomores and two freshmen on the court.
The game was over. The season was over. And for Analy’s seven seniors, their high school basketball careers were over.
At that moment, something significant and poignant was happening. But it didn’t register with me until Page called a timeout with about a minute left and began instructing his five underclassmen as if it were a one-point game.
As Page crouched in front of the three sophomores and two freshmen seated in chairs, Analy’s stars — seniors such as Kevin Aronis, Isias Alcantar and Jordan Guerinoni — stood and watched.
They were, suddenly, bystanders as their coach lectured the underclassmen, players he inserted to give a taste of playoff experience.
That’s when it hit me.
Page was looking to the future and next year, in effect, had already begun while the seniors stood to the side.
I don’t want to get overdramatic here. High school athletes will grow up and deal with far worse things than the death of their prep careers.
Still, the scene struck me as sad.
Through athletics, teenagers learn about hard work, dedication and teamwork. But they can also be introduced to some humbling realities. In this case, the knowledge that, one day, we will all be replaced and the team — or the company — will move right along without us.
In writing this, I’ve recalled something I hadn’t thought about in years.
As a freshman in college, I went home and, during my visit, watched my high school baseball team play.
Now, I wouldn’t say I was overly traumatized when I played my last high school game. Some of my teammates cried after we lost to Buena on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth (yes, I remember). But for whatever reason, I couldn’t summon any tears — possibly because I was relieved to have faced my last curveball.
Still, as I sat in the stands watching my old school play a year later, my emotions surprised me.
Most of my old teammates and I were gone, but nothing had changed. Everything — the coaches’ instructions, the parents’ cheers, the chatter and laughter in the dugout — was the same.
I don’t know what I expected.
I had planned to watch the entire game, but I left after a few innings.
I never have gone back.