Padecky: Vikings bow out with dignity

Vikings' Alec Kobre goes up for a shot on Thursday night. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD).

BY BOB PADECKY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

When the last game comes and your team has the smaller number, you can leave bitter, angry, second-guessing the officials, teammates, coaches, even parents in the stands if you choose.

Or, you can leave the way Alec Kobre left Thursday night.

His Montgomery Vikings lost in the NorCals to Woodcreek, 58-52.

“I have to give them more credit than us playing badly,” said the Montgomery guard. “They are the best team we faced all season. We were neck-and-neck with them for a while but they kept hitting their shots.”

Yes, you leave with your dignity, the one thing a defeat can never take. Only you can give it away. And there was, and should have been, dignity in a 28-4 season for Montgomery, a NCS title, an eight-game winning streak, a 12-game winning streak, a No. 2 seed in NorCals.

“I only had one other team that won as many games,” said Viking coach Tom Fitchie. “I told them in the locker room they should be proud for what they did. I told them they’ll be fine. They will wake up tomorrow morning and they’ll go back to school.”

And life will move on. Which of course will be the odd, awful part for the Montgomery seniors, the core of this team. Their last game was at home and it was a defeat, not exactly the kind of goodbye you read about In The Perfect Ending.

“My career went by so fast,” Kobre said. “Playing basketball for Montgomery was the best experience I’ve had in my life.”

If sports does build character, then the Woodcreek defeat built some. It is sobering but a valid statement nonetheless: The better team won Thursday night.

“They were the better team tonight,” Fitchie said, “but I wouldn’t say they were the better team. If we were to play them 10 times I think things would be pretty even.”

That opinion includes the assumption that 6-foot-9 center Ben Freeland wouldn’t get in early foul trouble, miss half of the first quarter and all of the second.

Without Freeland providing that inside threat, Montgomery spent a lot of time on the periphery casting off those treys, some off-balance, some forced, making it quite what all basketball coaches know: To try to win by throwing up threes and shooting jump shots is indeed very risky business, for basketball at its essence is an inside game.

Fitchie’s opinion also includes the assumption that the Vikings would have answers for Woodcreek point guard Devin Murphy, who had 18 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

“Devin always has been the best point guard in every game this season,” said Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes.

But only Thursday night mattered. The rest is polite conversation. And the polite conversation, if it is to be fair, has to come to an inescapable conclusion: The Vikings went 28-4, not 0-1.

“Our goal this year was to win NCS,” said Kobre, who led Montgomery with 20 points. “The rest of it was dessert.”

And dessert shouldn’t, and didn’t, taste bitter.

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.