“In 49 states, it’s just basketball… but this is Indiana.” Season three of Intramurals at AU personifies this statement, as night after night students line the sidelines to watch their fellow students take the court in IM basketball.
With season three coming to a close, the O.C. Lewis Gymnasium was packed with students to watch the threetime reigning champion Sinkers take on the 12 Disciples in the Women’s championship and the two-time reigning champion Tune Squad defend their crown against Malone and Company in the men’s championship.
The rematch in the championship game was a phenomenal way to finish the Women’s IM season. The Sinkers were the heavy favorite to win, as they posted a 10-0 record coming into the championship game, including a 34-26 win over the 12 Disciples in regular season play.
The Sinkers had not lost a game in three years entering the championship. Betsy Lamb, Hailey Norris, Jori Fell and Ashley King led the way offensively for the Sinkers throughout the season. Melissa Green and Courtney Trigg were also key contributors for the Sinkers in the rebounding category.
While the game appeared to be a mismatch on paper, the championship contest surpassed all expectations. After two intense halves of play, overtime was needed to decide a league champion. The Sinkers were able to pull away in the extra time, winning 32-25. The 12 Disciples put up quite an effort, but came up just short.
Deborah Gardner attributed to her team’s efforts on the defensive end of the Sinker’s championship, saying, “I believe it was our defense over our offense that led us to the championship this year and in past years. It was an amazing feeling to go undefeated four years in a row.” The intense first contest set the stage for what many believed to be a dogfight for the men’s championship.
Tune Squad earned a first round bye after their undefeated regular season. They then beat Shaq’s Free Throw Coaches 70-58 in the second Round of the tournament. Malone and Company’s path to the championship game was much more difficult, as they struggled against Yes Gifts in the first round, winning 66-59, and coming from behind against the Detroit Pitstains to win 59-56 on a late three from Nate Shane.
The regular season game between Malone and Company and the Tune Squad will be forever remembered as an IM instant classic. A double overtime affair, the Tune Squad emerged victorious by a final margin of 88-83. The majority of the Tune Squad struggled to shoot the ball during the game, but Jake Zurawski had the hot hand and was able to keep them in the game.
Jamares McCloud put on an IM performance for the ages, leading Malone and Company to a near victory. While no official stats were kept, it is widely accepted that McCloud scored at least 50 points, with some claiming he scored over 60. With the rematch set to take place in the championship game, fans packed into O.C. Lewis Gymnasium to catch a glimpse of the rematch.
The rematch was not nearly as competitive as the first game. Tune Squad led from wire-towire, as Adam Miller dominated the paint, scoring basket after basket in the paint and hauling down rebound after rebound. Zurawski again had a massive impact on the game as he kept McCloud in check, forcing him into difficult shots for the majority of the contest.
While Tune Squad was able to score with relative ease, Malone and Company were unable to find a rhythm early, allowing Tune Squad to jump out to an early lead and pull away from there, eventually winning 73-41. The 32 point win capped an undefeated season for the team and resulted in their third consecutive IM championship.
“I think we went into the championship knowing that we would have to play great defense and use our size to our advantage,” commented Zurawski. “They had quite a few guys that could go on a scoring frenzy at any moment so we needed to lock down on defense and make sure we made each possession count on offense.”
With another successful Intramural basketball season in the books, students will be left itching for the opportunity to take the court again next year in season three of IMs. Until then, season four should be enough to keep students satisfied, as softball, spikeball, badminton and soccer will be offered.