The final two minutes of this rivalry match was difficult to watch.  The first and second periods suggested that it would be a tooth-and-nail, grind it out special until the buzzer. But in the third period one team flipped and the other flopped. Although Kronum allows for quick and high scoring capabilities never leave a team entirely out of contention, and no team in the Kronum League ever goes quietly, this ending reeked of desperation and futility. The Night Owls pelted the Goal Crown from the Cross Zone in seek of an 8-point Kronum shot that would bring them back into the game. Every shot was uglier than the one before. This was bad, and after having played such a tight and competitive game throughout the first two-and-a-half periods, the Owls hooted their last hoot when Jacks’ captain Scott Kennedy rejected his rival skipper Kyle McGrath’s 8-point attempt with extreme prejudice.

Think Jordan’s White Sox stint, comeback with the Wizards, and those really awkward Hanes commercials all rolled into one. It was THAT kind of ugly.

Early on, the Owls and Jacks came out hot, loose, and just plain on their games. The Owls looked like the team that just put together a convincing team win the previous week over a streaking Throwbacks squad, and the Jacks turned a 180 on the careless play that led to their first loss and a shaky 8 point win over an 0-7 Work Horses team in their last two outings. Jacks ranger Jared O’Donnell (13 points, 3 assists) and Owls ranger Luke Dougan (21 points, 3 assists) got their teams started early with 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the opening period. Saves were plenty as well with Owls’ wedgebacks Matt Sola (5 points, 13 saves) stopping 6 shots and Pete Weiss (8 points, 12 saves) gathering 6 to go along with two 2-point dunks for the Jacks. The two teams delivered, as expected, and cranked out a combined 74 points, 27 saves, and 17 assists with the Owls taking a 39-35 lead into the first intermission.

Jacks All-Star ranger Ryan Coyne, held scoreless in the first 20 minutes, leaped out of his rabbit hole and put the Jacks on his back in the 2nd. He connected for 12 of his 18 points in the period with a combination of left-handed throws, kicks, and topped things off with a thunderous 2-point jam. Scott Kennedy (24 points, 6 assists) has his own 2-point ring and Weiss in the goal zone for two more slams. The Owls countered with 12 second period points from ranger Phil Cavalcante (28 points) and crosser Jay Klein‘s booming drop-kick from the Cross Zone past a sprawling Ben Hutchison (9 saves) but the Jacks had exposed the Owls in the Goal Zone for a total of 5 Crown Ring dunks and turned a 4-point deficit into a 75-74 lead after two.

The beginning of the end. Both teams played evenly in the first 40 minutes. Shot for shot, save for save. One team made a run and the other would check ’em. Each team was the Charlie Murphy to their opponent’s Rick James, but the Owls eventually took the brunt of the “What did the five fingers say to the face?” joke and got slapped in the third and final period. Jacks rookie ranger Joe Petrino (28 points) was cruising along at his 22.5 ppg pace with 12 after two frames then switched quadrants and exploded for 16 game-changing points highlighted by a quick steal and 4-point shot in transition from the cross and a pinpoint 4 -point ring from the Flex in the final minutes with Scott Kennedy draining two 4-point Cross scores of his own. The Jacks wedgebacking crew stood on their heads to combine for 22 third period saves with Sean Kennedy (13 saves) leading the way with 8 of those. Not to be outdone, the Owls’ Greg Ashton (13 points, game-high 17 saves, 3 assists) added 8 of his own in the final twenty minutes. The Owls carelessness with the ball led to their demise and the Jacks took home a 113-99 victory to stay alone in first place.

The right approach and mindset wins games in all athletic endeavors, both team and individual. When the right plan is executed with a winning attitude, athleticism THEN becomes the deciding factor.

Some teams just know how to get it done while others panic.