Sports

They've got nothing to hang their heads about

As Derrick Webb walked off the court at the Tacoma Dome for the final time Saturday afternoon, his steps were slow and deliberate.

With his sagging shoulders hidden by the towel draped over his head, he was the last South Kitsap player to make the long, lonely walk to the dressing room.

I followed a few steps behind, wondering if I should interview him then or give the kid some time. He’d just played his last high school basketball game and things hadn’t gone the way he and his teammates had hoped.

Their dream of a state title had ended the night before and, uncharacteristically, they just went through the motions Saturday, ending up in sixth place.

The team that dazzled us all season ended up disappointing no one but itself last week, and some day Webb and Jamil Moore and the others will realize that.

The higher the bar is set, the worse the pain is when you don’t clear it, and these guys had set the ultimate goal — nothing less than a state title. And their pain was clearly visible both Friday and Saturday.

Some day Derrick and Jamil, the only two senior starters, will reflect back on the success they shared over the past two year at South Kitsap. As two-year starters, the duo complied an impressive 47-10 record and placed at state twice, although not as high as either one would have liked.

Still, their careers were outstanding, and judging from the numbers of college scouts and coaches waiting for them at the end of the first two games, they will be playing ball for years to come.

It’s my hope, though, that they get a chance to play at a higher level. No disrespect meant to the Olympic College or Tacoma Community College, but Derrick and Jamil deserve better. Much better.

I don’t know if either one of them is quite ready for big-time Division I ball, but both could handle the pressures and expectations that would come from a smaller Division I, say Eastern Washington, or a Division I-AA or smaller but more upscale two-year school.

Part of playing well in the state tournament is getting noticed by colleges, and both Derrick and Jamil did what they needed to last week, at least in their first-two games.

Jamil’s defensive pressure on Roosevelt’s Marcus Williams, who is heading to Arizona, was outstanding.

Everywhere Williams went, Jamil was already there waiting for him.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Williams is halfway expecting to see Jamil a step in front of him at Roosevelt High all this week.

Derrick’s game speaks for itself, but scoring 51 points in the tourney’s first two games didn’t hurt. And he supplied the shot of the tournament for me during the Roosevelt game.

As the clock ticked down to close out the first half, Derrick stepped behind the dotted-in NBA 3-point line of the court and let one fly. He was already on his way to the locker room when the shot touched nothing but net.

Both of these guys have what it takes to advance to the next level. They can score, they can play great defense and they are both intense and smart players.

And they’re both two of the nicest guys anyone would want to be around.

Maybe that’s why it was so hard for me to sit there and watch them play below their capabilities Friday and Saturday.

I’ve seen my share of disappointed looks and streams of tears in hundreds of kid’s eyes over the last 15 years of covering high school sports. It’s never easy to interview a kid right after they’ve just lost their final high school game.

And on Saturday afternoon, I decided against shoving my tape recorder in Derrick’s face one last time. As he came upon the dressing room entrance, he took one long, lasting look back over his shoulder before disappearing into the tunnel.

His expression told me everything I needed to know.

Jeff Wilson can be reached at 876-4414, or by e-mail at sports@portorchardindependent.com

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