A time to reflect
Walking out of the Student Development Complex on a typically cold and blustery evening this past Saturday, I couldn’t help but think about all the good memories I’ve had covering games there.
The memories extend all the way back to the official opening game of the SDC in early December of 1979.
The Huskies had permanently moved out of old Sherman Gymnasium the year before, and the first game was appropriately enough, against Upper Peninsula rival Northern Michigan University.
The Huskies defeated the Wildcats that night by nine points in a win that ended a losing streak versus NMU.
Coach Bill Gappy’s team that season was led by Russ VanDuine, Geof Kotila and Rob Flaska.
A Tech assistant coach by the name of Kevin Luke, who had played at MTU a couple of years earlier, would a few years later become a coaching fixture in Houghton.
I also clearly a recall a 1981 Class D district final between Dollar Bay and Ewen-Trout Creek in which a capacity crowd of 3,500 showed up.
The atmosphere was pure electric that day, but Ewen-TC took a 65-48 win over the Bays behind Dave Besonen.
There was also a Class C girls basketball regional final (yes, they used to hold regionals here) between Westwood and St. Ignace in 2003 that still remains as the finest girls game I’ve ever witnessed.
The Saints took an overtime win on a 3-point shot at the buzzer. But the brilliance of Sarah Stream of the Patriots stood out. Stream, later a star at MTU, won a state title a year later.
And there was a 1995 game there between defending NCAA champion North Dakota and MTU. Freshman Allison Bailey of E-TC, who just a year earlier was playing in the Porcupine Mountains Conference, totaled 18 points and nine rebounds to coach Kevin Borseth’s Huskies to an upset win.
And who could forget the 2003-04 season when a very strong Tech men’s team hosted the Great Lakes Regional tourney after a great regular season.
That was a team that featured Matt Cameron, J.T. Luginski and Josh Buettner. Record crowds showed up and the place was never louder than that weekend.
When MTU was beaten by Southern Indiana in the semifinals before 3,600 fans, the disappointment was heart-felt. Personally, I can’t think of a game where I ever felt as badly for the home team.
There have been many other memories, but two others that stick with me the most are watching my son score his first basket as a Chassell freshman at the SDC in district tourney play, and his last as a Panthers’ senior in the same setting.
Those are the kind of memories that will stay with me as long as I’m writing about sports.