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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Allentown Central Catholic Playing Samurai Basketball.



Blogger's Warning: Despite every effort to avoid bragging about my grandson's basketball season, I'm about to do so. My only defense is that I have nothing but good things to say about the young men and women who play basketball.

On Tuesday night, it was snowing. But I traveled from Easton and along Route 22 and up 145 to Whitehall's gym for the final boys basketball showdown of the season between Allentown Central Catholic and Whitehall Zephyrs. The Zephyrs, at 15-3, are perhaps the most underrated team in the Lehigh Valley. They very nearly won both the Stellar and Sportsfest tournaments over the summer. Though Allen is the best high school basketball team I've ever seen, Whitehall is very capable of sticking it to anyone on a given night.

Mikey Esquilin is without a doubt the most dangerous and explosive point guard within a 50-mile radius. I began watching him when he was in first grade, and he is pure poetry. His mom and dad are two of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. Mikey also left the court briefly just to shake hands with me.

In addition to Mikey, the team is packed with other top and often overlooked players, like Charles Hudson, Zach Gilbert and Kasai Harrison. Those young men always have time to say Hi. Kasai actually came over and talked to me, an old man wearing a Central sweatshirt, before the game. Prior to that, he was sitting with my grandson, Dat Lambert, as the freshmen teams played. They both predicted they would score 100 points against each other.

For the past two years, Whitehall has been kicking Central's ass on the court. Even with Zay Jennings last year, Whiteall had our number. And Central (8-8) has struggled this year. We still needed two wins just to qualify for districts. Most had written Central off, but they forgot to tell Central. The team had finally come together, and proved it with an amazing upset of Becahi on Friday night. Could it do it again?

In a very exciting game, Jay Vaughan won the game on the line with 2.8 seconds left on the clock. His brother Sammy also scored the go ahead points in the JV game just before the Varsity took to the court.

Though Jay and Dat are half of team's offense, they will be the first to tell you that's only part of what has finally become Central's solution. That answer has been a stingy defense and a team in which everyone contributes. A Kevin Kern steal. A Jake Partridge rebound, a Chris Ocasio layup. A Jordan McChristian assist. Teamwork.

I used to tease my grandson that he was half black, half Vietnamese, half Irish and half Martian. I'll tell you what he is - 100% samurai. He is a stoic who approaches the game with the same philosophy as Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's greatest ever samurai and author of both The Five Rings and Dokkōdō. I send him Musashi quotes all the time. He tells me he likes them, although I concede he might just be humoring me.  

Here are some principles of what I call samurai basketball. I caution everyone that I have no real understanding of basketball. But I think Miyamoto Musashi would have starred in the NBA. The only downside is he would have killed everyone. Literally.
  • The way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death. In basketball terms, that means you play every game as though it is your last. To win any battle, you must fight as if you are already dead.
  • Mushino. This is "no mind." It is the same as the Nike motto, "Just do it." This principle applies to free throws and 3s. Most basketball players can shoot in their sleep, but are distracted by crowds. If your mind is on the crowd or the score, you have no place to put your mind. No mind.
  • Absence of self is your sword (In other words, you subtract yourself from the equation. It is not about you, but the team, and winning)
  • "There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” All the tools you need to win are already inside you. That's why the coach put you where you are. Have confidence.
  • You never let the enemy see you get upset or happy.
  • You must watch the enemy's timing and disrupt it.
  • If you do not control the enemy, the enemy will control you.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Some day in a future time.. long after we are all gone....Dat will look back and say.. I had the best grandfather a guy could ever have had.

Anonymous said...

Yawn, Some (Most ?) of us prefer Keith Groeller.

Anonymous said...

Still not beating Allen........but I respect your support.

Bernie O'Hare said...

As I wrote in my story, Allen is the best high school basketball team I've seen. I am very happy for those young men and the school. It is so important that the students there realize just how good they are, and not just in basketball. I hope that the basketball team's success helps the student body realize its potential in other areas. That also happens to be important to the City. Dieruff is having a tough year but will be ok.

I also said earlier this year that Parkland was a much better team than it was painted to be. Aside from William Allen, there is a lot of parity among the other LV teams. I confess that after Central, my favorite teams are Whitehall, Beca, Liberty and NDGP. But I like them all.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:26, Actually, I've learned more from Dat than he from me. He was born a very sick baby and was expected to die. Thanks to Doctor Unger, who spent a crucial night in the hospital with him, he made it. But he still spent the first six months of his life in a hospital. They had to fly him to Hershey. He fought to live. Doctors said he would be a weak child. Then he had epilepsy and numerous seizures as a child. But throughout it all, he fought. He played three sports, was good at them all, and loved the competition. He was constantly converting his yard into baseball fields, football fields and even golf courses. He was lucky to have some very good coaches along the way, too numerous to name here. He was also surrounded with good kids. Fortunately, his last seizure was when he was around 11 or 12.

Anonymous said...

Dat's history is inspiring. Throughout his many challenges he needed the support you have provided. I am sure the pride you have for him is reciprocated

Anonymous said...

You are what your record says you are, a .500 team at best

george schaller said...

Bernie,
dat damm Dat sure looks like a fine young irish ladd, and to have the honor to go to such a esteemed allentown institution! From the look in his eyes there is no diversion in his God givin future!
REpublican redd
humanist by design

Bernie O'Hare said...

3:11, Yes. A .500 team plus one.

Anonymous said...

Is Dat really part Irish? I did not know you were his biological grandfather.

Bernie O'Hare said...

As I have explained several times, Dat very fortunately has none of my genes. I have considered him my grandson since the day he was born and he has considered me his grandfather. Your heart is full of rage and hate , so these are things a person like you will never understand.

george schaller said...

Bernie,
I don't know if that one is for me? I have been studying this situation you speak of in males, and our childrens children biological or not are treated the same? I have a case study of immediate family and distant as well as friends that makes for a good study, the other gender specific is the only ones that use this seperation of the main institution as a scorned women tactik that also falls with in the catagory of just plain nasty!
Me personally I love all children and for the most part there innocense that God has givin to them at birth. The world is a terrible thing these days what with all the gagets of mind control and diversionary tactiks for the incompatence and impeTENT that surrounds us, sad but true!
Still a fine young irish ladd, chacter traits are also a inherited trait, learned!:)
REpubliucan redd
humanist by design