Cleat Geeks

In The Midst of Misfortune

On a winter Sunday in the South, as well as in other parts of the nation, it is often not only the Lord’s Day, but the feature day of Women’s College Basketball. This day was no different. In fact this Sunday could be considered one of the more exciting days on the schedule for the SEC Women’s Basketball Calendar. A conference battle between top-ten ranked teams, the number one ranked and home-standing University of South Carolina Lady Gamecocks and the visiting tenth ranked University of Kentucky Lady Wildcats at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.

The intensity of the game was that certainly of a top-ten battle, but perhaps even that of a tournament match-up. The UK Hoops squad was ready for the challenge, bringing their best to the top ranked team in women’s college basketball. They held the lead for most of the first half and at halftime.

The second half was spirited to say the least. The Lady Cats holding to the lead for the first ten minutes. South Carolina scratching back and taking a single digit lead. With 4:39 left to play in the game and Kentucky trailing by six points a scrap broke out for the ball. Bodies diving and rolling to gain control of the cowhide and then the fray stopped with a scream. The action halted and the fear and concern erupted as the players, coaches, referees, and spectators realized a common purpose, help Kentucky’s Janee Thompson. Janee dove for a loose ball and rolled under a South Carolina player and came out with a gruesome looking ankle injury. The UK Athletics office later confirmed the injury to be a dislocated ankle and a broken fibula that brings her season to an abrupt end.

The silence in the arena, with over 17,000 in attendance, was as if there was no one in the room. The training and medical staffs worked expeditiously to treat Thompson. In a matter of just a few moments, they had her leg stabilized and on her way to the hospital for treatment. However, before they wheeled the gurney off the court both teams, including South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley, surrounded Thompson and wished her well. The crowd came to life and provided a thunderous standing ovation and wonderful example of sportsmanship.

For all purposes, the game should have probably been called at that point. The UK players were, naturally, emotionally attached with their teammate and the frustrations of UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell boiled over at foul no-call to the point he received two technical fouls and was ejected for the second year in a row in Columbia. The game came to an ever-lingering merciful end.

The beauty of the sport was on display this Sunday afternoon, but it wasn’t in the actual play, though that was excellent. The beauty of sport is in the mutual respect and admiration for healthy competition and sportsmanship, or in this specific case ‘sports-woman-ship’. A tip of the cap goes to both teams in this game, but even more to the spectators for their concern and appreciation, not for a game, but for a young woman. A great moment in sports came in the midst of misfortune. Best wishes to Janee Thompson for a speedy recovery.

By the way, South Carolina won 68-60, not that it really matters.


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