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Mile High Mayhem

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Photo credits: Jeff Reiger
February 17, 2013
Mile High Mayhem Report
By Matt Gypin
Denver Harlequins
We had been excited for months to be hosting a tournament again after several years, and the 2013 Mile High Mayhem, held Feb. 9-10 at Englewood High School in Englewood, Colo., did not disappoint. From the courts to the sponsors, food vendors to crowd support, everything was excellent. 
 
Even though we split our team into two squads, the Denver Harlequins managed to do pretty well on the court, too, winning four of five games and taking home second place. (The ‘Quins “B” team did not do as well, unfortunately, but many players who do not normally play got valuable experience, and they all played hard).
 
Our first game of the tournament was against our own team, the ‘Quins “B” team, who badly wanted to beat us for bragging rights in practice. It was fun playing against our friends and it felt like more of an official scrimmage, but it turned out to be the perfect tune-up game for our team. Unlike the last couple of tournaments where we felt like big underdogs going in, this time we had Adam Scaturro back in our lineup and we knew we had a chance to win.
The ‘Quins B team gave a valiant effort, led by Josh Stapen, Nick Pearce and Ryan Walters, but our team held a steady lead and they could never quite catch up. We stayed calm and confident, and we pulled away in the second half, winning 60-39. It was great to see “Big Rob” get to play for the B team; he is a paraplegic with quick hands who helps us a lot in practice. Problem was, he couldn’t stay upright in his chair – I think he got knocked over three times. I’ve never seen anyone come into a game pushing with bare hands while holding their gloves in their mouth, but Big Rob did it with style.
 
We were looking for a little payback in our second game, against the University of Arizona Wildcats, who beat us 52-31 in December down in Tucson, and we got it. It wasn’t easy, however, and it was a back and forth game throughout much of the first half. The Wildcats were led by Cory Harrower and Chelsea Falnes, two fast females who were extremely tough to slow down. We kept up the pressure though and eventually started to wear them down and create some turnovers, before again pulling away in the second half, winning 57-43.
 
Our third game of a very long Saturday was against the Las Vegas Renegades, a scrappy team led by Eric Chase and Mike Schacherbauer, who fought us tooth and nail on every possession. The Renegades led by one point going into the fourth quarter, but we turned up the pressure in the final period and escaped with a 57-52 victory. Schacherbauer twice trapped me in the penalty box, creating a leaving-the-court penalty on me after I had just been sentenced to the sin bin for four in the key. This mistake definitely gave them momentum, but luckily for us it wasn’t enough to turn the tide.
 
On Sunday, our team showed up to the gym a little sluggish, and it didn’t help that our first opponent early in the morning happened to be the Tampa Generals. The Generals were led by Leevi Ylonen, who took home the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award, and who might be the fastest player I have yet to play against. We tried the best we could to slow him down, but he raced circles around us as they jumped out to a 19-10 first quarter lead, from which we never recovered, losing 63-44.
 
We shook off the loss and came out on fire in our final game of the weekend against the Northridge Knights. Both teams were tired but the Knights’ turnovers came early in the game and we led 17-10 after the first quarter. Northridge battled hard, but just couldn’t quite catch up as we won, 59-53.
 
I thought we might blow the lead late in the fourth quarter when my hands turned to stone and I could not catch the ball, creating three or four turnovers in a row, but our key defense was able to deny them and hold them off. There were some pretty big hits in this game as well: I went flying out of my chair in the first half after a hit from Dave Nicholls near center court, and the Knights’ Weasel Luxembourger twice got spun from behind and knocked to the ground, once by me. It’s always scary when that happens, and I’m glad he was alright.
 
All in all, I thought the tournament was a great success, one of the better ones I have been to. It was really nice to get to play in front of friends and family, who don’t normally get to see the game. Everyone I talked to who attended loved it and had a great time.
 
It was also exciting to see some photographers and 9News getting coverage of all of us. The gym and its two courts worked out great – there was plenty of room for the fans and teams. And the food was fantastic: we had Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, Jimmy John’s, and a spread of sandwiches and bagels.
 
Also, it was really nice to win some games after struggling at the last two tournaments, and we are looking forward to facing Tampa again at Sectionals next week, hopefully with a different result.
 
I would like to thank Englewood High School, all of our generous sponsors and donors, all of the teams who attended, and all of the amazing people who volunteered and worked hard to help us put on a great tournament – I hope we can do it again next year!
           
February 26, 2013 — 7:25am