This is Matt’s third season coaching at East. He finished his first season with a better record than expected but season two was a clunker. Last year there were still some players left who came up under the old coach and were unwilling to meet Matt’s higher expectations. Despite starting the season with considerable talent, the lack of team chemistry ultimately killed them. It was Matt’s first losing season ever – as a player or as a coach – and it didn’t feel good.
But Matt LOVES a good challenge. And even more, he loves being the underdog who suprises everyone in the end. Which bring us to season 3, the season Matt has dubbed “The Big Payback”, going as far as to even put the phrase on the back of the team’s t-shirts and play the James Brown song before each game.
Last night was the first test and they pulled it out, beating their east side rival in a thrilling game that was decided by a basket from his senior point guard with 10 seconds on the clock.
(This was also a team they didn’t beat at all last season and was noted in the pre-season polls as one to watch, while Matt’s team wasn’t expected to do much of anything.)
Afetr the game, Matt went back to the locker room and wrote at the top of the dry erase board – THE FIRST PAYBACK, and the name of the school they just beat. The second test comes on Saturday against a team that made it to the state championship last year. I think they might just be able to pull it off.
And you want to know why high school basketball games are so fun? Because when you win like they did last night, the crowd does this: