It really was a boys basketball game. The hoops were proof enough for that. Still, with coaches wearing ski parkas and players bundling up with extra layers on the bench, one could be excused for confusing a game between Kolbe Cathedral (Conn.) School and Bethel (Conn.) High for a hockey faceoff, thanks to what might be the chilliest conditions of an indoor high school basketball game seen in quite awhile.
According to the Danbury News Times, a pipe below Bethel's gymnasium froze before a key Saturday league game, leaving the matchup to be played without central heat, sending the arena temperature dropping down near 50 degrees during the game. That temperature may not be cold for current outdoors conditions, but it was plenty cold enough for those expecting a nice warm hoops game, with teens running and sweating in front of a frigid crowd.
Want more proof? Look at the background in the photo to the right. There's more than one hood drawn tight in the back row of those stands.
Yet the most stirring testament to the temperature dip was Kolbe Cathedral coach Chris Smith, a longtime head coach who also happens to be UConn's all-time leading scorer, with 2,145 points across a four-year career. Despite his wealth of experience, the conditions on Saturday forced Smith into a new first: coaching in his warmest ski jacket.
"Never before [have I coached in a winter coat]," Smith told the News Times. "But I had the flu before and I have a newborn baby at home, so I don't want anyone getting sick."
With players left to get chills when returning to the bench after running up and down the court, the two teams leaned heavily on their starters. Both Kolbe and Bethel called on only three reserves in the course of a 50-46 Kolbe win.
In the end, Bethel was just short of what could have been a memorable upset for a team noted most for its size down low, an opportunity its coach, Ray Turek, bemoaned missing afterwards.
"We had opportunities -- many opportunities -- to tie the game or take the lead and it just slipped out of our hands," Turek said. "The breaks didn't go our way tonight."
Considering the fact that a pipe was frozen, perhaps they were lucky that another break didn't go anyone's way during the course of the game as well.