Going into finals, both teams had just played two four-minute games; the Hard Ballerz had taken out the Dodgefathers, arguably the underdog team of the tournament this year with spectacular catching skill, and one of the tournament favorites, Short Bicka. The Freshman Phenoms kicked off the tournament by coming up big against Bubba Gump in a sensational and unexpected show of dominance, and dispatched Flock with ease in the semifinals. There was no doubt that these two teams belonged in the finals.
The tournament’s final game was a five-minute affair. Freshman Phenom’s sophomores Matt Heintzen and Chad Dowdell were taken out of the fray very early on: Matt by being hit and Chad by way of a catch by junior Thomas Kelleher. The Freshman Phenoms had no trouble evening up the score, however, knocking Thomas and senior Max Wilber out shortly thereafter. Hard Ballerz’ big man junior Patrick McColl was taken out by some sharpshooting by sophomore Bailey Thayer, just as Thomas was let back in the game. Thomas’ hands came up big with another catch to let Max re-enter the game, but to no avail. The Phenoms were on a hot-streak, having just knocked out Daniel Rosenbaum and Max, then senior Duke Myers and junior Kaitlyn Schiffhauer with impunity. Down three players to one, the Hard Ballerz looked hard-pressed to dig itself out of this hole, as hard-hitting sophomores Cole Botsford, Matt and Bailey all looked to make the kill to end game one.
Thomas, in the most crucial of moments, shone. He dodged two balls at once by getting low, never losing his composure. In a pivotal play, he seized the ball from Matt to allow Patrick back in, and that was all that the Hard Ballerz needed. In the next frenzied 20 seconds, Thomas was taken out by sophomore Trevor Rogers just as Patrick caught him on the arm. The one-on-one showdown between Patrick and Bailey was short-lived as Patrick nicked the sophomore on the foot to secure his team game one.
The crowd witnessed Chad’s elimination in the opening seconds of game two, an immediate disadvantage. Though Chad had traditionally made big catches in the spotlight for the Freshman Phenoms, he was retired to the sidelines too early, too often in this matchup to help his team.
A furious exchange took out the Phenoms’ Cole, Carrie and Matt and the Hard Ballerz’ Duke and Patrick, leaving only Bailey and Trevor to take on Daniel, Thomas, Kaitlyn and Max. Bailey was nicked in the foot again, leaving Trevor the lone Freshman Phenom on the court. Trevor was able to get a hold of a throw, but his catch was wasted as teammate Chad was forced out of the game within seconds. A throw by Daniel put an end to game two and the Freshman Phenoms’ hopes of a comeback.
In the end, the Hard Ballerz’ ability to perform under pressure and sheer depth saw it through to the championship title. Congratulations to both the Hard Ballerz and Freshman Phenoms on some phenomenally hard balling this year.
With dodgeball 2014 now over, we have yet another year to wait before the school’s best of the best take each other on. This year produced some huge wins, upsets and teams that will be back, hungry to take the title for themselves. Next year, keep an eye out for the Dodgefathers, who entered the tournament as underdogs but overcame tough teams such as Phat Boi Phresh. The Freshman Phenoms will return with a vengeance, as this is the second year that they’ve been denied by an older team. Hard Ballerz will likely return as the tournament favorites to defend its title. Stay tuned for dodgeball 2015, folks.