The basketball schedule I had drawn up for myself had two games listed:
Neuqua Valley (ranked No. 5 by MaxPreps) at Metea Valley (No. 44), and
St. Charles East (No. 38) at Naperville North (No. 64)
Both games featured good teams. And both games featured home teams that were underdogs (my preferred scenario for an upset). While Neuqua had already defeated Metea, 38-36, in November, St. Charles East and Naperville North hadn't faced each other yet.
So which one did I attend? Neither.
To be quite honest, I just didn't feel like driving all the way out to Aurora or Naperville. (First sign of old age?) I called an audible (last sports metaphor, I promise) and drove over to Conant High School in Hoffman Estates instead to see the Cougars (No. 113) host the Dons from Notre Dame (No. 32). While I was hoping to see an upset, I missed two: Metea downed Neuqua, 55-49, and North upended East, 63-59. Oh, well.
I should have known something was amiss when I bought my ticket and asked the lady for a program.
"We don't have any tonight."
"It's a non-conference game."
Is that supposed to be a good answer? (And she said it in such a matter-of-fact way, too, like "The earth is round, you know.")
"So do I just have to guess who's doing what?"
So I made my way in, stopping first at the concession stand for a slice of pepperoni pizza, an order of nachos and a Mountain Dew. (I had to keep my strength up.)
I took my seat next to some other guy who was there for the same reason as me: to see this Notre Dame team we had heard so much about.
Going into the game, the Dons were 14-2 and ranked No. 13 by the Trib and No. 11 by the Sun-Times. But the Niles squad was coming off a 63-53 overtime victory over Nazareth the previous night. Nazareth? Overtime? Really? The Roadrunners were only 7-5 and ranked No. 132. Could the 10-6 Cougars give the Dons a game?
At the half, it looked like it. Conant was up, 19-14, and my buddy and I agreed that both teams' shooting from the field was a little sloppy.
"Is this the team I read about in the paper?" he asked me. "Because I just don't see it."
"Me neither. But maybe we'll see a different Notre Dame team in the second half," I answered.
And we did. The Dons came out and scored a quick 19 points to Conant's one in the third quarter. Wow! Notre Dame ended up winning the game, 46-32, but it seemed like more of a blowout than that. I guess these guys are for real.
(I'd tell you who did what, but I didn't have a program, remember?)
On Friday the Dons travel to St. Patrick (9-3, ranked No. 41). I've seen the Shamrocks once before; they beat Fenwick, 62-54. I think I'll go check it out.