Most Viewed Stories
COLUMN: Brazeel's own Flu Game
On a Tuesday night in late January, Yuma Catholic point guard Madison Brazeel bent over at halfcourt — her hands on her hips while a fellow Shamrock was shooting free throws.
You could see the physical frustration on the face of the visibly ill Brazeel. Every run up and down the court was a struggle for the junior guard, who spent the day battling the flu and a 102-degree temperature.
That Tuesday night in late January tested her resolve and determination and resulted in an overtime win that, in hindsight, probably got the Shamrocks into the state tournament. That Tuesday night in late January is when Madison Brazeel won my vote for Player of the Year.
Brazeel's body apparently didn't realize how important a game it was that undefeated Salome — ranked No. 3 in the state — was coming into town and the Shamrocks needed a win to keep their hopes alive. She went to the minimum amount of class to still be eligible for that night's game and spent the rest of the time rehydrating and resting.
A look of misery across her face as she went out and scored 30 points, grabbed nine rebounds, snatched five steals and dished out three assists in a 64-50 overtime win over the Frogs.
“Whatever we needed, we got it from her that night. Every big play — because that game was a dogfight, that's a good basketball team,” Yuma Catholic coach Bob McGalliard said.
The game was everything that encapsulates a great player. An average player dealing with an illness so severe decides she can't play at full speed and spends her time on the bench or giving a half-effort. Instead, Brazeel — by pure will and desire — pushed herself and her team to another level to come away with the win.
With a player as distinguished as Michael Jordan — the greatest to ever play the game — there are too many iconic moments to count. Some may first think of the image of him defying gravity as Craig Ehlo fruitlessly guards him before Jordan sinks the game winning basket in the 1989 playoffs. Others may think of him using his left hand to slide the Utah Jazz's Bryon Russell out of the way before nailing the game-winning jumper of the 1998 NBA Finals.
But for me, the image that I think shows the true greatness of Jordan is him draped across teammate Scottie Pippen, hardly having the energy to get off the court after torching the Jazz for 38 points in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals — which has become immortalized in a popular Gatorade commercial.
Brazeel's own Flu Game was a beautiful thing to see more for its grittiness than her shooting the lights out. She finished 7 for 16 from the floor and 15 of 24 from the free-throw line. The true beauty of her performance was the look of anguish on her face as she bent over at halfcourt during the free throws. It was an expression that her body badly — badly — wanted her to stop and rest.
But she didn't listen to her weakened body. Instead, she listened to the voice in her head that told her how important the game against Salome was if the Shamrocks wanted to make the state tournament.
Considering all of the elements involved with the game, Brazeel put on the most impressive performance I've seen since I've moved to Yuma.
“She's a team leader. She's a captain and she's a point guard,” McGalliard said. “When they see how sick she is out there — and everybody knew how sick she was at school that day — and she's out there laying it on the line.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.