Growing up in Denver, I took an instant liking to Nuggets eight-time NBA All-Star Alex English. Alex was a shooting sensation back when the Lakers were Showtime and the Celtics were showstoppers.
Like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook, English had this running one-hander that was nigh unstoppable. At 6-foot-7 and a-buck-90, he was just this skinny guy that sliced and diced through the lane, smooth as Coltrane.
He won an NBA scoring title in 1983 on his way to 25,613 career points.
I remember sitting the arena one time thinking, “Alex is a little quiet tonight,” only to look up at the scoreboard to see he had 34 with a couple of minutes to go. He was just that kind of scorer, you hardly noticed, but at the end of the night he’d have the lion’s share.
There’s been something in the water around the Columbia Basin these past few weeks since coming out of the holiday break, because the shooters have certainly scored well on their English 101A exams.
Down in Othello, Macy Hampton joined the Huskies 1,000 career point list with a big scoring night against Grandview. She needed 14 against the Greyhounds, who held her to 13 in their previous meeting. There was no stopping the 5-8 shooting guard was good for 24 on her way to a career night.
Warden senior Bailey Whitney joined the Cougar 1,000-point club earlier in the season. The Warden senior is headed to Columbia Basin College on a soccer scholarship, but she proved she can dribble with both her hands and her feet. She also knows how to take it to the rack.
The Big Bend men finally found a solution to their scoring issues against Yakima Valley, treating the fans at DeVries Activity Center to a 108-point scoring night, running the Yaks right out of the gym. The starters accounted for 98 points and Almira/Coulee-Hartline star Payton Nielsen was good for 10, coming off the bench for his most productive night as a collegiate player.
The Runnin’ Vikes haven’t had much bench support on the offensive end and finally got around to taking care of business with the starting five. Joey Anderson once told me, “We’re not afraid of anybody in this league and we can play with everybody.”
They supported that line of thought with the biggest scoring night of the season. Mauricio Smith came back to the land of the living with his best scoring effort of the season with 23. NWAC Week 1 Player of the Week Koby Huerta was good for 24, Serph Decker had 20 and Anderson stopped-and-popped for 23. Like Dennis Rodman, who had to do the heavy lifting on the glass for Michael on those magical nights, Miles Brown finished with seven rebounds, eight points and two blocks.
Ninety-eight is a whole lot of scoring from five guys and what a night it was for a team trying to punch above its weight in the NWAC East and get to the tournament.
Whatever it is in the water around here, I say we bottle it up and put it in the Gatorade jug at the end of the bench.
English 101A has just one bit of advice, to the rack young scorers. Go hard or go home.
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer with the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org