ELLSWORTH AND THE NBA FINALS
After an exciting few weeks of high school spring sports teams that made extended runs into the playoffs, Bellmont sophomore Chase Ellsworth was the last athlete in the county to officially finish his school year.
The Braves golf team made a good run after a great season but ended up just missing the cut for team state competition. Ellsworth would not go so easily as he qualified as an individual for Tuesday’s first round. Then, Chase took his conquest a step further as he did what only one other Bellmonter has done in school history…make it to day two of state.
Joining company with the man who did it twice, Ellsworth is now in the club of two with Keith Blythe who accomplished the feat in 1990 and then was the state runner-up in ’91. While AC was making history on the softball field and Bellmont continued their season at the semi-state level, the Braves and Ellsworth quietly forged a path to state golf.
Despite finishing tied for 22nd overall at +11, Chase was the best golfer in Northeast Indiana in the tournament. An impressive run.
And he’s a sophomore.
Bellmont golf coach Kyle Eichenauer informed me that Ellsworth plans on playing in four or five tournaments this summer as well ensuring that the young talent can only get better. It’ll be a bright future for Bellmont golf if Ellsworth can return to state next year.
OKC 1, HEAT 0
Switching directions, I think it would be completely irresponsible of me not to write a little bit about the NBA Finals starting this week.
The Thunder showed why they are the most underestimated team to ever be considered the “favorites” in a Finals. Since the dawn of the “Big 3” in Miami, all eyes have been on LeBron James. Wade has won a title with Shaq and the gang in 2006 so there is less pressure there (plus I don’t remember Wade making “The Decision” in front of millions).
LeBron is now in his third Finals and is 0-2 thus far. This year’s challenge has a big three of their own in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. My wife had a solid point the other night when she noted that it was odd to have a “Big 3” with one of them being a non-starter. I guess that winning sixth man of the year means you’d be a starter on most teams anyways.
After taking game one, the talk has already sprung up about James and the gang choking once again. Despite having 30 points in the game (a Finals high for LeBron), he performed his patented disappearing act once again in the fourth quarter.
The Heat are 10-1 this season when Wade is out. Why? LeBron becomes Cleveland LeBron once again and puts the team on his shoulders. He has that superstar edge and look that Michael, Larry Legend, and Magic all had when it was their time to shine. James needs to stop “sharing” so much and just take over. With their backs against the wall in game six against the Celtics, we all got a look at what could be with James. That’s the LeBron the Heat need to beat the Thunder.
With OKC’s core players all under 24, this Thunder team has the look of a team that could be as successful a dynasty as the old Celtics who won several championships in a row.
There are several storylines in this Finals match-up.
If LeBron wins, the critics will shut up for awhile about how much of a disappointment LeBron’s career has been and then we will get to hear about how many more he has to win to be like Mike.
If the Thunder win, there will be another summer of “What’s wrong with LeBron?” and the potential beginnings of a Thunder dynasty.
D-Wade commented in an interview yesterday that he needs to score more points for his team...that might be a good idea. With Bosh not 100% and a bench that is comically talentless, LeBron needs all the help he can get. James needs to score 35+ the rest of the series and Wade needs to have at least 20-25 per game for the Heat to keep up with the fire power of the Thunder.
Serge Ibaka will not score big numbers for OKC but he is doing probably the most under-the-radar important thing for OKC: stopping Bosh from getting a rhythm. If there was ever a statement to be made about Ibaka's snub for defensive player of the year, it's shutting down a premiere big in the NBA Finals. That match-up, more than LeBron/Durant, Wade/Harden, or even Westbrook/Chalmers is the one to watch for going forward.
It can't be overstated just how important it is that OKC has the youth AND the talent necessary to beat the Heat. While LeBron and Wade were holding their hands on their knees during timeouts down the stretch in game one, Durant and company were eagerly waiting to get back on the court to put the game away.
And that's just what they did in game one.
My bet…Thunder in six. Heat go back to the drawing board. Maybe they’ll need to upgrade to a “Big 4.”