Elle Ruffridge became the all-time leading scorer in 5 on 5 basketball. She passed the record previously set by Deb Remmerde. We all knew it was going to happen. And we all knew it was going to happen last night. But there was still a sense of excitement and nerves that went along with the night. I can't imagine what Elle was going through, but I can tell you one fan's perspective.
Not going to lie...we have been adding points all season, trying to figure out when exactly it would happen. I was relieved when we figured it would happen at home on Tuesday rather than at Spirit Lake on Monday because I was home with the flu. And I'm really happy it happened at home because it's where Elle wanted to do it.
School started Tuesday with Iowa Assessments. So the morning was pretty quiet and the afternoon classes were tired and lifeless. (Tests drain you). But as soon as 8th hour started there was a feeling of excitement...a rush. People had reserved seats in the gym. The doors would be locked. Students had to leave the building. I called home and told my husband to get here by 3:45 so we could get a seat. Yes. Crazy.
And sure enough, by 3:40 when the doors were opened people had been waiting in line. And by 4:00 the gym was almost full. We sat through two JV games and enjoyed those. But almost more entertaining was watching the atmosphere. The media started filing in. That was quite a sight. Having 13 media representatives lined up under the basket instead of our one and only Chris Vrba was fun to see and a little nerve racking. And then there were the law enforcement officers...in uniform...at every door. That's when I really realized this would not be a usual night at the gym.
Students filled the student section and put a countdown on the wall. What fun. Then they brought in record albums to be broken at the right time. So cool. Kudos to whoever thought of that.
All the while I was texting Melanie at college, who planned on watching on her computer.
Finally the JV boys' game was over and it was time for our varsity girls to take the floor. The TV cameras lined up to film and what was one funny moment of the night, Elle went the opposite direction than they thought so they all had to quickly change positions.
TV cameras filming warmups, filming starting lineups, filming, filming.
The game started and with every trip down the court there everyone took a breath. Everytime Elle had the ball. And she scored...cheers....she missed....ahhhs. She seemed nervous. (Who wouldn't be). And they were guarding her closely. The points whittled down....only three to break the record. She shoots a three....and it's an airball! I found real humor in this because Elle rarely, if ever, throws up airballs. I couldn't help but think of the media cameras that caught that one and knew they would't be showing that on the news!
All the while, our girls were beating up on Manson-NW Webster. When Elle wasn't open, she did what she does so well...passes to someone who is, and who will score. I remember texting Melanie at half and saying, "Oh, btw, we are ahead by 22." Because honestly, no one was paying attention to the game. How did that even happen? Oh, it's our girls.
Halftime and no record. But it wasn't long into the second half that Elle was fouled and one freethrow would do it. And of course she did. The gym stood and cheered and she smiled. It was hard to take it all in. I was watching her but later wished I had looked around more. The Manson crowd was standing. Were their girls applauding? What was Elle's mom's reaction? Did Elle hug her dad? Were there tears? What was the media thinking? What was our student body doing? Then the records started breaking...so cool. There was the moment. I hope Elle enjoyed it.
The game continued and you could just see how much more relaxed Elle was. Swish, swish, drive, swish. 31 points on the night. Just like always.
The game ended. Elle was recognized by the Girls' Union in a nice ceremony. Unbelievable numbers. The gym was full of family, fans, and basketball players. All showing respect for the BEST. Elle's night continued...press conferences, signing autographs, talking on the radio, giving hugs, taking selfies with people. Doing what Elle does.
Then on to Senior Recognition Night. That always gets me. And boy do we have a lot of seniors this year on the girls' team, boys' team, and cheerleaders!! They wrapped around the gym. I am so proud of all of them. What a great group of leaders.
The boys' game was close for the first half and intense...always expected from Manson. But you could just tell that everyone was relaxed and some of the intense excitement was gone. Don't get me wrong...the boys are fun to watch and have had an awesome season, but this was Elle's night.
Until the end. Jon Kerns, a special needs student, was put into the game in the last 40 seconds. Jon is a senior who suited just for this game and the coach put him in. The acts of Jon's teammates and the other team so such character that it brings tears to my eyes. Every one of the seniors playing at that point would have liked to have scored. But Jon took his usual place in the corner and they got him the ball. He launched a three pointer and missed. (He also missed several in the JV game). The crowd sighed. But as a perfect ending to an awesome night, with 7 seconds left, Jon got to his spot again and his teammates got him the ball again and he launched it. And. It. Went. In.
Both crowds went wild. And I would say that cheer was just as loud and more exciting than the cheer when Elle broke the record. But that's who we are. That's this community.
The tournaments will start soon for both boys and girls and I wish them the best.
I will miss watching this group of girls in particular. They are explosive. Anyone can score. Their press is pure poetry. What a great run it has been. And I hope it continues.
Congratulations, Elle. And thanks for letting us all be part of history.