Sunday, March 10, 2013

I got my miracle ticket!

(Two, actually.) And Simeon beat Whitney Young, 69-51.

But, but, readers of this blog may be thinking (both of you), I thought you had a "life" that was intruding on your life, or something.

Well, let me back up, to Friday afternoon. The tweets were coming in fast and furious:

LESS THAN 70 tickets out of the 500 we had left!!! Hurry down!
ONLY 29 tickets left!!!!!!! 
DOWN TO 17!!!!


That's okay; I have that "life" thing, remember?

And then there was this:

Tickets are sold out 5 hours before game time. Should be a GREAT atmosphere. 

Yer killin' me.

But wait; what's this?

Michael O'Brien
According to Argo AD Ryan Skendzel, there are 700 tickets left for tonight's epic Young-Simeon sectional title game.

What? Could that possibly be? The showdown between the two best teams in the state, with two of the best players in the nation, isn't sold out? But this contest is, for all practical purposes, the Championship. (No one's gonna beat the winner of this game -- no one.)

I wonder if my son -- no, it's too fantastic to even contemplate -- would want to see this game?

I was scheduled to leave the house at 3:00 and pick him up in Hyde Park at around 4:30 (yes, it takes that long to get down there, especially on a Friday afternoon). My son comes home every other weekend (long story) and we usually grab a bite on the South Side before heading home (after the traffic eases up, which it never does). He's not much of a basketball fan, but -- what the heck, it's worth a try -- I texted him:

Do you want to go to a b-ball game tonight?

And also on Facebook:

The basketball Game of the Year is tonight; do you want to go?

But I didn't really think he would. As I said, he's not much of a fan, and, besides, the last game I took him to was the one where that kid got shot and killed (doesn't leave a good impression). Besides, my son really looks forward to his weekends at home. Oh, well, hope springs eternal...

So imagine my surprise when I received this text from him on the way down:

That would be ok cant wait to see you

Now, calm down, I told myself; we still have to get tickets. Could Michael O'Brien be right? Could there still be a chance to see this game?

My mind went back to my experience last year. After seeing Marist upset Curie at home, and then hearing about the Redhawks' dramatic victory over Bogan, I told my buddy Kevin that we absolutely, positively had to see them take on Simeon at Argo High School.

There was only one problem: the gym sold out the morning of the Big Game.

What? So was the contest at Schaumburg that night. I had to go and see Warren beat up on somebody at Barrington High School instead. No fun.

(By the way, the lady selling tickets at Argo Friday night told me the problem last year was that Marist had sold counterfeit tickets. My buddy Kevin texted me: Catholic kids? No way! To which I replied: And during Lent, no less!)

So I had resigned myself to not seeing the Summit (Argo) Sectional. I decided to bitch at Mike Helfgot of the Tribune instead and watch the games in Northbrook (which were actually very good).

But now, based on one solitary tweet, I was on the verge of seeing Jabari Parker and company one last time.

So what should I do, get off at the Stevenson and buy tickets first? (No way; it was a parking lot!) I decided to go down to Hyde Park, pick up my son and head west on 63rd Street for the game. If we couldn't get in, we could always eat at some cool neighborhood joint in Summit instead. (You couldn't fault me us for trying.)

I picked up my son at about 4:30, thanked him profusely for indulging his old man, and set out for Argo High School. It took us about a half-hour or so but we arrived in the parking lot with high hopes.

"How do I get in to the game?" I asked a group of students in a panicky voice.

"Right through that door," he (or she) answered. Just get out of that lunatic's way, I'm sure they all thought.

So my son and I went up the back way and found ourselves in the gym, without even buying a ticket. What's more, aside from the TV crews setting up, it was empty. Something was amiss.

We went down another staircase and found the lady who would be selling tickets.

"How'd you guys get in here?" she asked, in an annoyed tone of voice.

"I don't know; we came in the back. Are you selling tickets?"

"Not until six o'clock; you're not supposed to be in here yet."

"Can't we just wait here until then?"

"Oh, all right." (It's always best not to argue with a crazed fifty-something-year-old bald guy.)

We finally got in ("Come on, lady, it's six-oh-one!"), and got great seats in the front row at half court. Was I dreaming?

Argo Community High School was founded in 1920 and its gym, although charming, looks about that old. (Dick Portillo, founder of the restaurant chain, above, was in the Argo Class of 1957.) For some reason, the seats are all above the floor, but it's nice and clean and spacious. (The concessions are good, too.) The place was Standing Room Only -- duh! -- and the contest began promptly at 7:30. (My son and I ended up waiting only two hours for the tip-off -- well worth it!)

I'll let you read about the actual game in the Trib and Sun-Times. They both give a good account: Jabari Parker had one of his best outings of the season and the Wolverines won in a walk.

My take? The seniors won and the juniors will just have to wait until next year.

Oh, well, I told my son: you can tell your grandchildren some day that you saw Parker and (Whitney Young center) Jahlil Okafor play against each other in high school. That'll impress 'em.

Besides, the other games Friday night were nothing special: West Aurora beat Benet by four points, Proviso East crushed Oak Park River Forest, New Trier beat Niles North by almost twenty (really?) and Stevenson handled St. Viator with ease. What else would we have done tonight?

Now let's hurry home and watch Bill Maher.

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