Korby's Corner - Basketball's best tickets
Monday morning - the first time I touched the basketball that day - I drained a 22-foot 3-pointer in front of the Cloquet boys basketball bench during the program's annual alumni game.
Sure, I felt pretty cool catching the pass off the check and launching my left-handed heave over Zach Gerlach as the crowd arose from a game in which we "old-timers" were trailing.
Yet, I just smirked and went back to playing defense, knowing my lengthy - and lucky - triple was nothing compared to some.
Three of the "some" are Anders Broman, Rebekah Dahlman and Savanna Trapp, a trio of must-see Division I basketball stars that I have been lucky to watch over the past several winters.
Already this season, I've been to nearby Duluth to watch Broman, neighboring Esko to see Trapp, and yes, 85 miles southward to watch Dahlman dazzle in the tiny town of Braham. In fact, I've gotten to referee all three in scrimmages at one time or another.
Before refereeing, I was usually picked first to play pickup games at the Brainerd YMCA, while in high school at Cloquet, I was a short-lived starter. Even in my several years at the University of Minnesota Duluth, I aided our intramural boys basketball team to a Maroon league runner-up finish in 2009.
But my basketball career is nothing like the three I have been watching, or covering, for the past five years as a sports reporter.
Their elongated list of achievements seems unreal.
Broman, a senior at Lakeview Christian Academy is, without a doubt, the smoothest right-handed shooter I've ever seen. The South Dakota State University signee plays the game with such poise, is so unselfish and is the ultimate team player. He led the Lions to the state tournament a year ago, and today, in Hibbing, looks to become the state's all-time leading scorer with well-over 4,000 points.
Dahlman, meanwhile, a senior at Braham, is the state's scoring champ on the girls' end, with 4,000-plus points to her name. The guard will play at Vanderbilt University next year and deserves it. From a deep-rooted basketball family, Dahlman can break a press single-handily, fire off the dribble and take the ball to the cup. She's won a state championship too. Watching her last month, I don't remember her missing a shot in warm-ups.
Dahlman has always gotten in the way of Trapp, a 6-foot-9 senior at Esko, who is virtually unmatched at the center spot. Able to dunk the ball, Trapp holds single-season records for the Eskomos in points and blocked shots and will attend UCLA next winter. Still lean at her unfathomable height, Trapp has touch at the rim, free-throw line and isn't afraid to kick the ball outside.
Maybe even to me, an easily-winded guard on Monday morning's winning alumni team.
Or maybe not, since - like some - I don't think I could make my shot again.