With five seconds
left. Dawn dries her hands on her shorts, breathes deep and pushes up the front
end of a one-and-one. The ball walks the rim. It wavers, then nestles in nylon.
She swishes the second shot. At the buzzer, Pfannebecker sends up a
three-pointer that caroms off the glass.
Final four!" cry Dike's rooters.
suit's got another win or two in it," Murr says.
semifinal Dike takes on the Lady Bison of Buffalo Center. Hoopla? Buffalo
Center, population 1,100, brings 1,400 fans to the game. But the Lady Bison,
unbeknownst to Darci, Dawn and Dike, became extinct this morning. Their title
hopes ended not with a bang, but a microbe—Bison star Wanda Schisel came down
with a virulent stomach flu. She will not answer the buzzer for Buffalo
Center's first-ever final four appearance.
The wounded Bison
are no match for Darci and Dawn. Darci is seven inches taller than any of
Buffalo Center's starting guards. She hits a flat-footed set shot 10 seconds
into the game, and the Bobcats never look back. Darci scores 21 without leaving
her feet. Dawn chips in 14. Eimers digs loose balls off the floor like the
volleyball star she is, takes them to the net and winds up with 34. Bison fans,
who live a three-pointer from the Minnesota border, dry their eyes with Hooper
Hankies. Dike wins 78-57. And the Bobcats, unranked and almost unnoticed all
year, are one game from the state title.
There are two
lights left on the map. One, about an inch from Des Moines, represents
Southeast Polk, a school serving a suburban district with a population of
10,000. The other, farther away, represents Dike, the underdog. Tomorrow night
one will be extinguished. The other will remain lit, in the minds of Iowa
basketball fans, forever.
brings a frozen wind from the north, icing the flags outside the Vet. The
weatherman predicts an inch of snow, but nothing like the blizzard of '31. That
was the year Avoca High School's die-hard fans fought snowdrifts all day,
reaching Des Moines just in time to see Avoca's girls win their first and only
state crown. After the game, fans presented the team with a snow shovel
decorated in Avoca's colors.
talisman is Murr's suit. For the record, it was purchased at a Cedar Falls
saddle shop. It is fertilizer brown, polyester, size 48.
wear red, white and blue. They come from a town with a population one
seventeenth the size of the current population of the Vet: 10,282. Their roster
represents almost 2% of Dike's citizenry—which may not sound like much, but a
similarly representative Chicago team would suit up 60,000 players. Dike is 2½
hours by bus across the rich soil northeast of Des Moines. On weekends, kids in
Dike cruise the town's three-block main drag. They stop at the Quick Trip Mini
Mart for sodas or the Barn Cafe for sundaes. Dike stat: Darci and Dawn, though
next-door neighbors, live nearly a mile apart. The Bobcats are a little bit
coach Ray Svendson wears a freshly pressed suit. His Rams live just 20 minutes
from the state capitol. They play a gambling defense Svendson calls "crazy
pressure." They wear black and gold. While not quite big-city, they are at
least a little bit rock 'n' roll.