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Wayne Post
  • Pucko's Perspective: Grace and class in defeat

  • There were 3.1 second left in the Section Five championship game at the Blue Cross Arena Sunday. Webster Schroeder senior David Wantis was at the foul line for the first of a one-and-one, with his Warriors behind the Bishop Kearney Kings 56-55. The game, the sectional title, and David’s high school basketball career were all on the line.



    Wantis missed the shot.

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  • There were 3.1 second left in the Section Five championship game at the Blue Cross Arena Sunday. Webster Schroeder senior David Wantis was at the foul line for the first of a one-and-one, with his Warriors behind the Bishop Kearney Kings 56-55. The game, the sectional title, and David’s high school basketball career were all on the line.
    Wantis missed the shot.
    In the aftermath of Kearney’s celebration and an awards ceremony that is always markedly unceremonious to the runners-up, I asked an obviously distraught Wantis for a television interview. To which he answered, “Sure.”
    David didn’t really want to do the interview. It was unremarkable. He explained that the pressure didn’t really get to him, he just missed the shot. But Wantis gave me what I needed to round out a balanced story of the contest. Raw emotion.
    As part of ‘The Vision High School Sports Beat’ on 13WHAM-TV, we double shoot and reconstruct the big games of the week, giving it the NFL Films treatment. The presentation requires participation from both sides to fully tell the story. It’s easy to talk to the winners.
    A few weeks earlier that same Webster Schroeder basketball team beat Fairport, handing the Raiders their first loss of the year. It was a great game. In a similar situation with a lot less at stake, two of Fairport’s best players not so graciously declined an interview. They big leagued me.
    What they didn’t understand is when you embrace the glory that comes when you win, you accept some responsibility when you don’t. It isn’t nearly as much fun and sometimes can be downright painful.
    Back in 1987, Billy Ripken was playing baseball for the Rochester Red Wings. Ripken committed an error that cost the Wings a game. I asked him about it. Billy declined comment, but a few minutes later sought me out, saying, “You’re there when I have a good game, what do youneed to know.”
    I tell that story often. It’s one of my favorites. And so is this.
    Wantis didn’t need to talk about that missed free throw. He didn’t owe it to me. It hurt and it took guts. Declining would have been the easy way out and I would have understood. But he did anyway. Someone taught that kid well.
    There’s a word for that.
    Class.
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