You know what they say about animals backed into a corner.|
Now imagine if that animal is the fiesty and fiery sabertooth star Wendy Brown and the "corner" is the brink of a 0-4 sweep in the first round at the paws of the top seeded Bangor Tides and their affable yet rotund MVP candidate Lance Wildfyre.
Then, if you will, also imagine a tweet before the game. Not from Wendy, but from the Bangor Tides general manager himself, featuring a clip from Monty Python's "Holy Grail" of a harmless looking bunny rabbit effortlessly slaughtering an opposing group of arrogant yet foolish foes. The GM's reference was clear as day, as the Huntsville Mayors faced an almost insurmountable hole in the series, down 3 games to none and facing the end of their season.
And althought the clip was done up comically, there was at least one longtooth baller who was not laughing.
That fact became evident from the moment Wendy Brown jogged out onto the court for warmups. In opening comments to the media, Wendy made it known she had seen the offending tweet.
"Yeah, I saw that s**t" she confessed, the reporter either too polite or too terrified to remind Ms. Brown she was on live.
"It's just more fuel to the fire. Not that we f***in needed any. We know it's a wrap if we lose.
But We ain't goin' out like b****es tonight. We're gonna come out and sock 'em in the damn mouth."
Clearly playing for pride at this point, from the opening tip it was clear Brown intended to do her best to uphold her promise. With Emina Ferhatovic controlling the tip, Brown immediately grabbed the ball and rushed the basket, catching her defender Lance Wildfyre off guard a bit. The saber was able to absorb contact at the rim and finish, although she wanted the foul as well but to no avail.
Fans at Explorer Stadium, however, knew this was going to be a very hard fought game.
The Huntsville Mayors were not going to go down easily.
The Tides did well to adjust to Brown's drives though, forcing her to either pass the ball or shoot from the perimeter for most of the game. As usual, Wildfyre and Randulf Mackenbach were extremely solid, even spectacular at times, both starting off the first quarter with 8 points each. Brown attempted to get her teammates involved with ball movement, feeding Ferhatovic for a dunk and seeking to feed Harrison York, who started off the quarter smoking, hitting his first 5 shots for 10 points on the quarter. She also tried to find her boyfriend/teammate D'Angelo MacQuilkin, though the burly lion had early trouble finding the net with his jumpshot. With both teams trading blows it was a 2 point lead for the Mayors after one.
But the Tides weren't interested in dragging this out any longer. They went on a quick 12-0 run to start the second quarter, with Raoul Kidane causing havoc in the paint and backup guard Diego Imperio using his craftiness to bate the Mayors into fouling him three times, going a perfect 6/6 from the stripes at that point. Huntsville seemed to lose some steam for the first half of the quarter, with Jim McCormick (freshly replaced in the starting lineup by second round rookie Natasha Rous) struggling again and the duo of Jerome N. Swimmer and Kyle McLeod trying to keep the ship afloat. Meanwhile, Bangor executed their offense beautifully, using the high pick-and-roll and moving the ball for open shots. By halftime the home team who started out strong was down by 12.
The second half saw a renewed aggression from the Mayors, as Wendy Brown began to find her range. She stroked consecutive treys, one right in the mug of Wildfyre. The saber then serenaded the bunny with claps and a mock chant of "MVP" on the way down the court. Wildfyre then responded with a quick crossover move, causing Wendy to jump right while the bunny dashed to her left, resulting in a high-arcing floater over Harrison York. MacQuilkin eventually got his shot to fall from up close, only to be countered by Leon Delmont on a nice curl off of a Cassidy Whitelatch pick for a reverse jam in traffic that had even the most hardcore of Huntsville fans oohing and ahhing. At the end of the third the Mayors had only cut the lead to 10, with one more quarter to decide elimination.
But the Mayors apparently saved their best for last. After nearly getting into a scuffle with Wildfyre (who was no doubt irritating her by picking her pocket 5 times on the night), Wendy Brown had to be restrained by her boyfriend D'Angelo and her second bodyguard, Emina. The two short stacks earned technical fouls for their troubles, though it seemed to motivate Brown more. She pressed the potential league MVP full court on defense as the final period of regulation crossed over 5 minutes. Jerome Swimmer then joined Brown in the backcourt, and the duo seemed to knock the top seeded Tides on their heels with the two taking turns attacking the Tides defense and finding teammates for buckets.
With the Mayors having crawled to within 5 points with 2 min to go, Wendy Brown then hit a huge triple from the corner, screaming with primal exhilaration towards her home crowd. Then Lance Wildfyre, in a rush to get the ball up court, ended up getting his one and only turnover as his pass for a streaking Delmont was broken up by MacQuilkin. The lion dribbled the ball up the court, finding his girlfriend aggressively demanding the ball at the top of the arc about 30 feet away. He obliged, and Wendy Brown turned and sank another contested 3 pointer to go up by 1.
With only a minute remaining, Wildfyre got his 10th assist, finding an open Pura Doris Quaatsch on a backdoor cut for a lay-up. But Brown one-upped the rabbit again, weaving through traffic and lobbing a perfect alley oop to York, regaining the lead. The Tides still had a shot to win the game, but Machenbach missed a difficult contested jumper and the Tides were forced to foul Wendy, who showed she had ice in her veins by calmly (for her) sinking 2 free throws. After a timeout to advance the ball, the Tides had one last shot with 8 seconds remaining. And with the game on the line, Bangor went to their leader, Lance. But the rabbit's game-tying attempt careened right, and the Mayors escaped with a hard fought 3 point victory.
Wendy Brown was Player of the Game, scoring 25 points on an absolute scorching 8 for 11 with 6 treys and 6 assists. Harrison York did his job with 26 points on an impressive 12 for 19, and Jerome Swimmer had 19 off the pine. Kidane had 22 to lead Bangor, while Lance Wildfyre finished with 17 points, 10 assists and 5 steals.
Wendy Brown was of course fired up after the victory, but showed great class and respect for her opponent.
Just kidding. Wendy was Wendy at the interview table.
"I f***in TOLD y'all! Didn't I tell y'all?" the saber gloated. "I knew we were gonna rise up and battle back. We don't show it all the time, but this team got a lotta heart. When s*** is do or die, we get s*** done!"
And of course she had to tweet the Tides GM after the game about the bloodthirsty rabbit he predicted would slay them.
"looks like i was that rabbit tonight. hows the crow taste muthaf****?"
She and D'Angelo may not have time to squeeze in #steak along with getting enough rest for Game 5, which will be back in Maine in 2 days.
Then again, revenge is a dish best served cold. And Maine is pretty damn cold.
With any luck, we'll get a 6th or even 7th game out of this series. Seeing Lance and Wendy go at it is just too much fun!
-Written by Chrys Bourgeois, editor of Furry Hoops Universe.