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The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

Taking out the trash talk

Despite age, rust, squad of tall teachers wills way to win over bi-district champion girls varsity basketball team
Julia Copas
Government teacher Erin Summervile and dance teacher and boys basketball coach Terrance Carson smile as they race back on defense as the teachers’ team bench erupts in unison after Summerville’s 3-pointer padded the faculty team’s first-quarter advantage over the girls varsity. The teachers led by five after one, eight at half and ended up winning the game by nine.

Heading into Friday night’s faculty challenge against the girls varsity basketball team, both sides were talking some serious smack.

Senior guard Lily Hobbs boldly predicted a 100-0 victory on the team’s Instagram account.

I think we have a size advantage. I think we know their game plan. I may or may not know their offense and their defense.

— Coach Carly Kehn, explaining pre-game why the teachers had an edge on the varsity in Friday's scrimmage

Her teammate and fellow senior Sam Cowles told her dad, math teacher and PALS adviser Richard Cowles, that she was planning to dunk over him.

Not to be outdone, the elder Cowles added blueberries to his pre-game smoothie declaring that each one represented a rebound he intended to grab during the game.

The most frequent trash-talker, according to Hobbs, was varsity head coach-turned-nemesis Carly Kehn, and her commentary posted on the aforementioned Instagram account bears that assessment out.

“I think we have a size advantage,” Kehn boasted to the Internet. “I think we know their game plan. I may or may not know their offense and their defense.”

Initially, this reporter thought Kehn had lost her mind. The two-time defending District 24-5A champs and 2024 bi-district champions against a bunch of teachers dragging their tired bodies to the large gym at the end of a long week before finals?

No contest right? 

Well, it was not as if Kehn just drew a random list of teacher’s names out of a hat. There were no 5-foot-9 journalism teachers prone to turnovers and air balls on her roster; instead, there were no fewer than seven basketball coaches and 11 coaches overall, plus a trainer and a math teacher who were among the tallest trees in the gym. They even had a dance director on the roster to celebrate successful 3-point shot attempts as needed. 

Junior Ella Burns celebrates after she made a 3-pointer cut the teacher team’s lead to 17-12 with three second left in the first quarter. After trailing by eight at halftime, the varsity cut the deficit to one in the third quarter before the teachers pulled away to win the game by nine. (Julia Copas)

The varsity meanwhile played without an experienced coach, although team manager Lucy Cottrill nobly stepped in as the varsity’s interim coach for the evening seeing as the entire girls basketball coaching staff had defected, intent on annihilation instead of instruction.

Turns out height, strength and unexpected 3-point shooting prowess is a pretty tough combination to beat even if it’s dulled with rust and age.

The teachers jumped out to a five-point lead after a quarter and extended it to eight by halftime.

“We had some solid talent show up for the staff team,” Kehn said. “I think we rebounded well and used our size advantage to get the win.”

Hobbs agreed.

“The high school girls were at a bit of a size disadvantage to the grown gentlemen on the staff’s side,” Hobbs said. “It was a challenge to guard both their height and strength.”

No post-game [trash] talking was needed due to my crawling out of the gym in fatigue.

— Math teacher Richard Cowles on the absence of boasting after his teacher squad bested his daughter Sam's varsity squad

The tallest players on the court were all on the faculty side: Richard Cowles, trainer Matt Johnson  and Coach Colton Collins were all well north of six feet. Hobbs said that Mr. Cowles made some crazy blocks during the game, and MacJ photographer Julia Copas said that Coach Greg Rodgers had surprisingly accurate range from beyond the arc. With Kehn and boys basketball coach Carlin Shaw running the offense, the teachers proved to be a pretty tough out.

Which is not to say the varsity didn’t fight back. Sam Cowles may not have made good on her promise to dunk over her dad, but she did send a Collins shot back from whence it came.

In the third quarter, the varsity rallied to within one, but the comeback proved ephemeral.

“They subbed out all the tall players, which made it a whole lot easier, and our shooting started getting hotter,” Hobbs offered to explain her team’s resurgence, “but Coach Kehn quickly made some subs to put an end to it.”

The varsity was still within three points with seven and half minutes left in the final quarter before a Shaw 3-pointer assisted by Kehn doubled the geezers’ lead to six. By game’s end, the lead had stretched to nine, 46-37.

But the outcome was secondary to the game’s larger objective: to bring the team together one more time before the end of a special year.

“It was fun,” Kehn said. “I’m glad the seniors got a chance to get back out there, and the underclassmen were able to showcase what’s to come.”

Head varsity coach turned opposing floor general Carly Kehn pushes the ball forward ahead of her senior forward Sam Shreves’ defensive pressure. When told it appeared as if she was dishing out dimes in the game, Kehn joked, “You have to dish out dimes when you can’t hit a shot.” Photo by Julia Copas.

Perhaps the best news for fans was the sight of junior Sonya Petersen on the court (even if she had to lose to a team with her mom on it) after an entire season of watching her team from the sidelines due to injury. Along with rising senior point guard Emy Chen, and rising senior forward Ella Burns, Petersen will be among the leaders spearheading the team’s efforts next season.

“It will definitely be a growth year,” Kehn said, already looking ahead. “We have talent but need to build the culture again. [We] have good kids but have to get back to the grind; [they] can’t ride on the seniors’ success.”

We’ll always be tight, and I am so blessed to have them in my life, and so thankful to basketball for allowing me to meet such hard-working and kind people.

— senior guard Lily Hobbs on the bond among the team's seniors

As for those seniors, if Friday was the last time they played together against an opponent on their home court, Hobbs said they didn’t mention it to each other.

“We didn’t talk about it, but it was definitely something I thought about,” Hobbs said. “It’s sad for sure, but hopefully we find our way back onto the court together in the future in some way. We’ll always be tight, and I am so blessed to have them in my life, and so thankful to basketball for allowing me to meet such hard-working and kind people.”

The kindness may have been the reason that the trash talk ended when the game did. Or maybe it was something else.

“No post game talking was needed,” Mr. Cowles confessed, “due to my crawling out of the gym in fatigue.”

Despite the victory, he lacked the energy to boast.

“I woke up in the middle of the night with my legs cramping,” Cowles admitted.

Good thing for the faculty this challenge wasn’t a best-of-three series. Game 2 on Saturday morning could have been an entirely different story.

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