What a night on the hardwood it turned out to be for our Lady Wildcats. Our young team (only two seniors on the roster) upset Union County for a big road win. The win ran our record to 6-0 on the season. Believe you me, it was one undefeated and happy team that loaded the bus for the long cold ride home. Speaking of cold, the temperature was well below freezing and the wind chill hovered around zero on that clear winter night. By the time I did my post-game interview with Tom Rogers of WKDZ and Coach Larson warmed the bus up, it wasn’t too far from 10 p.m. when we started home.
As we headed down the road toward Marion, our undefeated girls began to get hungry. They were begging for us to stop and eat. As we got to Marion, we saw a Druthers Restaurant and the girls took their campaign to eat to another level. For those of you that don’t know, Druthers was what used to be Burger Queen. They were putting the chairs on top of the tables when we pulled into the parking lot. I said, “Larson, hurry in there and see if they will feed our team.” Larson pulled the bus to the side of the parking lot and ran inside Druthers. After a brief talk with the restaurant manager, Coach Larson waved for the team to come on in. Our team went in, ordered and began to eat. Meanwhile, the Union County boys team, which was returning home from a game at Caldwell County, stopped to eat as well. It was like we were at the nexus of the universe. Ten minutes ago, Druthers of Marion was closing up shop. Now, at 10:45 p.m., it was a hotbed of activity with two busloads of basketball teams mowing down burgers at a record pace. The sight of two school busses parked at Druthers attracted several local teens from right there in Marion. The parking lot soon filled with students from Crittenden County. The Crittenden County kids began to buzz the parking lot like a bunch of NASCAR drivers on the short track at Bristol. They were hooping, hollering and honking. It was quite the scene.
By 11 p.m., our girls were through with their meal. We filed back onto the bus with the coaches boarding last. As Coach Larson sat in the drivers seat, he realized something. He did not have the bus keys. He thought he had left them in the ignition. Since they were not there, he searched his pockets and the bus floor. We then went in and combed the restaurant. We even sifted through the trash to make sure he had not left the keys on his tray and then emptied the tray into the trashcan. By 11:30 or so, we realized the keys were not going to give up their hiding place. As a matter of fact, Larson became more convinced that he had left them in the ignition anyway.
The time was getting late, and this was the era before cell phones. At least no one on our bus had a cell phone yet. I had to make an executive decision. I called the transportation director from Crittenden County, using the phone in Druthers. You see, we always carried a sheet with us that listed all of the various counties’ transportation directors’ phone numbers on the back. I explained our dilemma. The Crittenden County fellow told us he would bring us a Crittenden bus to take our kids home. At around 12:15 a.m., a Crittenden County school bus rolled up to Druthers. We loaded our team and all our equipment onto the bus and headed for home. The time was 12:30 a.m.
Speaking of time, by the time Coach Larson pulled the Crittenden County bus in front of the Trigg County gym, it was 1:30 a.m. We got off the bus and explained the night’s events to a group of worried, confused, sleepy and dazed parents. After the last of the parents pulled away from the gym with their daughters in tow, Coach Larson and I retreated to my basketball office to discuss what to do next.
I suggested that we go home, sleep, do our radio show at 8 a.m. at Hardees, get a set of keys for our bus and then head for Crittenden to make the swap. Coach Larson, on the other hand, wanted to get some bus keys for our Trigg bus and head back to Crittenden immediately. He felt sort of responsible for the new snub nosed bus that was spending the night in the Druthers parking lot. I decided to go with the Larson plan, and that is where the fun or nightmare began.
Tune in next week as we head back to the scene of the crime.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.