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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: Life’s debacle on hardwood

Welcome to this week’s ‘Front Porch Gospel,” all.

And welcome to March Madness, too.

We will take a break at Part 39 from our “Life Starts in 1973” chronicle. Then, in another sense, it is not a break at all. Read on. You’ll see.

Sitting, nervously, and watching the University of Houston play Texas A&M last Sunday evening in the Round of 32 of March Madness, I could not help – perhaps unsurprisingly to you – but think of my own life story. You’ll probably see your own, too, as you read on.

For the past year, of course, we’ve celebrated half of a century of life on this side of high school – and that key 1973 year prior to that – and you and I have traveled along step by step as we have chronicled life with its picturesque mountains and deep, deep valleys. If I had to pull out a life event to put those fifty years into a microcosm, I think this game would be it.

If you did not see the game, surely you have heard about it. It was one of the classic games in NCAA tournament history. And it was a pure-tee slugfest.

I knew it would be, because I knew that the only team that could match Houston’s physicality was A&M. They matched and even surpassed it.

The Aggies’ game plan seemed to be to make the game a brawl. They put the ball in the hands of a couple of their left-handed guards who lowered their heads and drove the paint relentlessly all night, and then their “bigs” crashed the boards with a vengeance.

The Cougars, whose depth is thin due to some key season-ending injuries, had to fight and scratch, absorbing powerful body punches all the way through; and they lost many, many of those battles on the boards and eventually had lost four of their starters to fouls by game’s end.

To make the game more epic, A&M overcame a thirteen-point deficit in the last two minutes and hit an improbable three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

In those two minutes, it was, as Houston’s Coach Sampson said, “Murphy’s Law.” Anything that could go right for A&M did, and anything that could go wrong for the Coogs did, too. I’ve never seen a team throw in so many consecutive impossible three-point shots and have them all go in during those final two minutes. Sometimes you just have to shake your head.

Juxtaposing what we saw that night with life, I don’t know if a game mirrors life, my own – probably yours, too – any more than this one: Two battle-tested teams going at it relentlessly like two boxers.

Said another way: You and I fisticuffing relentlessly with life, staying in the ring, regardless and come what may, That’s the picture.

Then add in the inevitable: If it can go wrong, sometimes it will.

Life just throws so many punches at you. Some deflect off of you, and some knock you clean off your feet. But, still, you always get up.

Victories or defeats, mountain-top experiences or lonely journeys down in the valleys: We still get up.

I like that. And I like knowing we don’t do it alone.

Sometimes during that Sunday night March 24 debacle, it didn’t even seem fair. Foul calls were abundant and sometimes questionable. A&M – by far the aggressor – shot forty-five free throws by the end, and four Cougars’ starters watched the final minutes of the game from the bench. Two Aggies retired early, too.

Sometimes the adversity was just the tenacity of A&M. That was real. Hats off to a noble opponent on that front.

Often it was just bad luck. That happens, too.

And the debacle, friends, didn’t just go the normal forty minutes. Oh, no, that would be too easy. It went an extra five minutes. Five grueling, painful, tense, action-packed minutes.  

Overtime at its best, or worse.

Ah, life will have its way, won’t it? It will keep coming at you like Joe Frazier.

But in the end, when the final horn had sounded and the dust had settled, the Cougar’s resiliency, their preparation, their culture and love for one another prevailed: UH 100, A&M 95.

It was life’s debacle, on hardwood.


Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a writer and preacher of the gospel. And, after a ten-year hiatus, he’s also returned to work with students at Ferris High School as well.

In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 6:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email or call or text (972) 824-5197.

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