Saturday afternoon covering the Conquistadors' basketball game, watching a game where the visiting team almost won with only three players on the court, brought back a lot of crazy memories for me from my first tenure with the Daily Globe.
I sat at my old spot in the south press loft for a while after the game and remembered looking across the way at the old crowds and the number of DCHS, DCCC and Tournament of Champions games I covered during the winters and the Dodge City Legend of the defunct-United States Basketball League in the spring.
Sitting in “my” loft as some called it (there was a sheet up there one game naming the area after me), I remembered the first games I covered the first time I was here (Dodge City High against Salina Central in 1999). The Lady Demons led by seniors Crystal Lampe and Kenya Woods and four freshmen won (with the young ninth-graders announcing when interviewed that they had arrived); then the Demon boys shutout the Mustangs in the opening quarter on the way to their victory.
And the memories just kept flowing.
— Clayton Kerbs hitting a shot from 40 feet away to beat Great Bend which actually brought the student section on the court to celebrate. There were a few other buzzer-beaters, but I can't remember who hit many of them, but the Kerbs' one stands out in my mind.
— Another student celebration I remember was when the Red Demons fought back (I don't remember their opponents, but the Demons were the heavy underdog) to win, causing another celebration.
(Side note: I also liked it that almost every year, a student gets the honor of dressing and looking like DCHS boys basketball coach Dennis Hamilton — including faux bald cap — in the front of the student section.)
— Perhaps the highest moment in Legend history for me was the 2003 season when the team went 28-5, including a fade-away in the corner three-point basket by Artie Griffin with less than 10 seconds left in the USBL championship game for a 99-98 victory over the Pennsylvania ValleyDawgs.
-- The Lady Conqs closed one season with Jim Turgeon having to do perhaps his best coaching job when the team, whittled down to eight because of injuries and disciplines, clawed their way to an unbelievable run to the Region VI championship game. That was the year before the Lady Conqs eclipsed a number of game and season records in the program.
-- The Conqs' men winning the 2006 and 2007 Jayhawk West titles after being selected seventh and third in the preseason coaches' poll for the respective seasons.
-- The Legend's winning streak at the Civic Center that went from 2003 through 2005. I can't remember, but I think the streak was at 45 when it was broken.
Page 2 of 2 - One note you may find interesting, I didn't cover the loss that broke that streak. That goes to former Globe writer and current Manhattan Mercury sports editor Joshua Kinder. I remember him coming back to the office saying: “Unbelievable. I get a chance to cover the team and they lose.”
Also, I didn't cover the Legend in 2006, Kinder did. I covered a couple of games, both wins. Then I covered the Legend again in 2007 and they didn't lose a home game that season. So the last Legend game I covered at home that was a loss was more than 10 years ago.
-- The last game I covered at the Civic Center was my final day with the Globe and the final home game ever for the Legend, a win over the Oklahoma Storm that gave our professional team its fifth regular season title to go with three league championships (2000, 2003, 2005) in eight campaigns.
A few other unusual memories came back: like the time the Guymon coach told his player to sit on the ball after he crossed half court and his player followed his coach's orders to the letter.
The funniest memory for me involved a three-game, three-night homestand for the Legend and was actually during a time I wasn't at the games from May 22-24, 2001. Neither general manager Tom Nelson nor head coach Kent Davison had heard from me to interview for any preview. The game on the 22nd took place and neither had still hadn't seen nor heard anything from me, so Nelson was a little peeved. No, he was very peeved.
I showed up around the start of the second half of the game on the 23rd, but told him I couldn't stay. He asked why not and why no preview. I told him I had become a father around noon earlier in the day and had been at the hospital before-hand and was going back at that moment.
His reply: “I'm happy for you at this moment, but I'm not happy with you.” He called the next day and apologized saying he would have done the same thing under those circumstances. I knew apologies weren't necessary and we had a good laugh.
There are so many more memories at the building I could discuss but my thoughts changed to my final thought leaving the Civic Center in 2007, which I thought would be the last time in the building, once the special events center (now the United Wireless Arena) would be built. A lot of what I would have thought would have happened did. Leagues and tournaments decided on the more modern facility, as did the Conquistadors for their games.
I know the middle schools are currently using the Civic Center, but what happens when their improved gymnasiums are finished? The building had a facelift before I left and is still a beautiful place to stage events. Let's try to continue using the building for some event, even if not sports-related. It's too much a part of the town's history and is still just as useful as ever.