The Hart of the Game


Gwenna Keckler, Editor

There’s an energy at Dakota Ridge basketball games that reverberates throughout the entire gymnasium. On Friday Feb. 15, the Eagle’s Nest Student Section was packed with high school students standing shoulder to shoulder, buzzing with excitement that could be felt all night.

The leis that were dangling around the students’ necks, the Hawaiian shirts they wore, and the posters held high, contributed to the energy of the Eagles. Even though the home game was a 53-58 loss for the Eagles against the Pomona Panthers, this game wasn’t about winning or losing, it wasn’t about competition or rivalry, it was about honoring the high school boys who have dedicated their time and energy to a sport they love.

While Senior Night made the game special for all the seniors on the team, walking heads-held-high with their parents who supported them all throughout high school, there was one senior every Dakota Ridge student came to support.

Conner Hartley, a senior at Dakota Ridge high school and the men’s varsity basketball manager, played in his first high school level basketball game. Deafening roars of “WE WANT HARTLEY” put a smile on the senior’s face and caused the coaches to substitute him in during one of the first fouls. His entrance onto the court was met with screams and cheers and applause.

“I started watching it [basketball] when I was a little kid. We lived in a college town with a really good basketball team and it really got me into basketball. Tonight is my first time playing [at the high school level] which is really nice,” says Hartley (12).

The finale that led to a swarm of Dakota Ridge students rushing to the court was the heart pounding moments leading up to and following Hartley’s final shot towards the basket. As soon as the swoosh was heard and the buzzer sounded, the end of the game brought the crowd to the court to gather in support of their fellow Eagles.

“For me it’s so cool to see my friends out on the court doing what they love. Also, it’s really fun to talk trash to the other teams. There was so much energy and it was so cool that everyone rushed the court,” says Jackson Bartlett (12).

The men’s varsity basketball game proved that while high school athletics paves the way for success and acceptance in the face of a great defeat, the real heart of the game is in the students. The ones who live and play the game, the ones who love and support the players, the ones who learn from defeat, and the ones who leave a legacy on the court and in the hearts of their fellow students.