We're not out of the dunking/happy bombing woods, yet, but the gradual saturation of baseball and softball homers and the occasional big grab are a sure sign that the seasons are changing. There are plenty of other litmus tests, but watching a lacrosse defenseman finish a marvelous run down the field with a terrific goal is almost as good as the budding of cherry blossoms, isn't it?
• Brian Rouse, R.E.D.A. (Ont.) vs. YAAACE (Ont.): Rouse and his Regional Elite Development Academy teammates needed three shots at the Canadian prep championship to take home the title, but they finally got it done against YAACE, thanks in no small part to Rouse's explosiveness, which he showed off on this dynamic dunk.
• Kenneth Gaines, Whitfield (Ga.) Academy: If Rouse is one of Canada's best young dunkers, Gaines is most definitely the best in Atlanta, an honor recently bestowed upon him by no less than the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which polled its readers to determine which of the area's best athletes has the most impressive dunks. As you can see below, there was ample reason to vote for Gaines.
• Jake Heagen, John Glenn (Oh.) vs. Chillicothe (Oh.): John Glenn High built up a massive 19-point lead in a tournament game against Chillicothe, yet watched nearly the entire lead evaporate in the second half. Luckily, the Muskies had a great escape to lean back on: the athleticism of Jake Heagen, who helped take control of the game back when his team desperately needed him.
• Kayden Calder, Rich (Utah) vs. Monticello (Utah): People can accuse Kayden Calder of any number of things. Not following through on promises isn't one of them. He proved that by delivering on a pledge that the team would win to Rich seniors Parker Stuart and Cody Groll, both of whom fouled out in what could have been their final high school game. Not only did Calder come through, he did so with a buzzer beating three-pointer in double overtime, then immediately reminded both Stuart and Groll exactly what he'd promised. If that isn't a gutsy move, we don't know is.
• Jacob Atchley, Centennial (Texas) vs. Plano (Texas): Great outfield grabs are always impressive, but when a player willfully puts himself in harm's way, that tends to make the resulting outs even more impressive. Case in point: This grab by Atchley, who collided with the fence as he brought in a drive to the fence by a Plano batter.
• Triston Stegall, Charlotte (N.C.) Providence vs. Greensboro (N.C.) Page: What's better than a full-field run from a close defenseman which leads to an amazing long range goal? A full-field run from a close defenseman which leads to a goal made with deft stickwork ... with a long pole. Clearly, this goal by Stegall fits firmly in the latter category.
• Amanda Howard, Chapin (Texas): We're not sure who Chapin scored this goal against, but we know it was impressive for three different reasons: 1) It was an impressive strike in and of itself, 2) It was the only goal in her team's 1-0 victory, and 3) She was just about the last person likely to score, considering the fact that she played as Chapin's goalie in the game. Now that is a surefire player of the game, no?