Padecky: Emotional win for Vikings, Fitchie

Montgomery fans mob their basketball team on the court after they defeated Las Lomas in the NCS championship game. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG . PD).

By BOB PADECKY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Maybe it was Zack Templeton.

Maybe that’s what made him tear up Friday night. Yeah, now that I think about it, Tom Fitchie said, it was Zack that made him so emotional after Montgomery won the NCS Division II boys title.

“He drives the lane and he knows he’s going to get clocked,” I said of Templeton, all 5-foot-8, 145 pounds of him.

“Yeah,” Fitchie said, “and he doesn’t care either.” It’s Templeton, 145 pounds of grit and guts. He may be Fitchie’s smallest soldier but he is the breathing, living template of the 28-3 Vikings, the team that provides the classic definition of strength in numbers.

“Look, nobody can be afraid of us when we take the court,” Fitchie said. Until play begins. Then it’s the Montgomery swarm, the multi-headed beast that doesn’t come up for air. That pushes and drives and swats, making just a terrible nuisance of themselves. They have become, Fitchie admits, an extension of him.

“I love the game and I am passionate and I know the kids think I am a little bit over-the-top sometimes,” Fitchie said. “But I think I have rubbed off on them a little bit.”

Tears were welling up again in his eyes. People who have seen the man a lot say they never saw him that emotional. When Dave Cox of YSN365 had Fitchie on camera,

Fitchie asked Cox for a moment, to collect his emotions. This is his fourth NCS title.

He’s been at Monty for 27 years. He knows there’s more basketball behind him than in front of him.

“I really have a soft spot for these guys,” Fitchie said. “It’s because they like each other so much.”

They refuse to offer excuses. Like guard Alec Kobre. With 53.6 seconds left in the game Kobre was getting an ice pack placed on his neck during a timeout. Just moments before Kobre provided the game’s tipping point. He drained a three from what he said was his favorite place on the court — the right side, near the top of the key. The game was tied at 51 when he hit it.

In a game in which momentum changed about as often as the basketball changed hands, Kobre’s shot, in effect, took down Las Lomas. Monty ran off four more unanswered points to win going away, 58-51, and now he was on the bench with an ice pack on his neck.

The reason for it will probably create another tear or two for Fitchie.

“Thinking about the NCS all the time,” Kobre said, “I had trouble sleeping all week. A lot of stuff was going through my head.”

He was experiencing a stiff neck. Expectations can do that to you. When you are a No. 1 seed, everyone knows you are marked.

So did Kobre feel the pressure when he launched that three?

“I had no hesitation,” Kobre said. “On the court, that’s where I feel the most comfortable.”

Yes sir, Tom Fitchie would say, that’s my boy, that’s my team.

For more North Bay sports go to Bob Padecky’s blog at padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.