Seniors exit with games to remember

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Adam Crenshaw stands at the edge of the Morgan Academy basketball court, just soaking it all in.

He knows he has probably just played his last basketball game in a uniform. Sure, he's the star of the Ft. Dale Academy team, but college coaches don't have time for 5' 8" guards from small, private schools.

He wants to walk-on next year at Auburn, but he knows it's probably a pipe-dream. College is where determination and grit make way for height and talent.

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So he stands in silence, watching fans file out of the arena, running scenes from his high school career through his head, knowing he will never be here-in this moment-again.

He has just played the game of his life, scoring 21 points in a loss to Morgan Academy. His team needed to win in the area tournament to advance, and despite his heroics, they came up just short.

His grandparents wade through the players and coaches and fans, to give their favorite player a hug. "I'm so sorry," says his grandmother, trying to hold back tears.

Crenshaw is the player every high school coach dreams about. He dives for loose balls, and plays good defense, and protects the ball, and has a good attitude, and hits big shots. And does he ever hit big shots.

At the end of the regulation tonight, he faked out a double-team and hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. Then when everyone in the entire gym knew he was getting the ball, he drove past defender after defender and tied the game with a layup.

He just didn't want this game to end. Not this way. Not tonight. He wouldn't let it happen.

But when Morgan Academy triple-teamed him in double overtime, when he could have sent the game into a third extra period, he passed the ball. Not because he wanted to, but because it was the right thing to do. And even though his teammate missed the shot, he walked off that court with his head up.

"He's our guy," said Ft. Dale Coach Reggie Mantooth. "The ball was going to him."

Crenshaw's performance Friday night didn't really surprise anyone-he won the MVP of this tournament when he was a sophomore. But something happens to players when they are faced with elimination. Not just from a tournament, but from a sport, a period of their lives. It's a game they've been playing their entire lives and now they are told they're not good enough to play it anymore.

No one gave the Meadowview girls a chance in the world of beating Morgan Academy tonight. They were the fourth and fifth seeded team, playing the number one Senators. Their best player was in an air cast, sitting on the bench in street clothes. Now their tallest player was an eighth-grader named Haley McIntyre, who wouldn't turn 14 until April. They had no depth whatsoever.

But even after McIntyre fouled out in the fourth quarter with 14 points, five gutsy little players from Meadowview were still matching Morgan point for point. In the movies, the Lady Trojans final shot wouldn't have bounced off the rim and fallen to the floor. It would have swished. And four seniors would have been jumping for joy instead of crying.

But as Adam Crenshaw knows, life isn't like the movies.

"It hurts because I'm going to miss it," he says, looking back over the court. "There's nothing like high school basketball…it just feels good to know I left it all out on the court."

Morgan players who have waited for Crenshaw to come out of the locker room wander up and congratulate him on a great game.

But as they walk off he just stands at the edge of this court. Looking around. Soaking it in.

Editor's note: Matt James is the sports editor for the Selma Times Journal, and wrote this article following the AISA tournament played on Feb. 9 snd Feb. 10, 2001.