COLUMBIA — Jordan Stevens ran toward the Hickman bench as the first quarter buzzer sounded. The Kewpies trailed Lincoln Prep 22-14, but Stevens had stripped an opponent and scored a lay-up a minute earlier. After four straight losses and a week-long setback at the hands of the weather, the team’s leading scorer felt like Hickman finally had a chance to get moving again.
As he ran past the half court circle, Stevens noticed a small puddle of water. Thinking it was just sweat, Stevens waved over a referee and continued his trek toward the bench.
Hickman vs. Lincoln Prep boys was canceled after the first quarter because of snow leaking through a crack in Hickman's gymnasium ceiling. The game will most likely not be rescheduled.
The Hickman JV and varsity girls’ games Saturday have been moved to Rock Bridge High School. In 2007, the Hickman girls' game against Rock Bridge was canceled because of a similar leak incident.
Mother Nature prevailed once more.
The puddle turned out to be melted snow falling from a seam in the ceiling. The game stalled for half an hour, during which Hickman athletic director Doug Mirts climbed into the catwalk to try to find the leak.
Instead, he discovered water dripping from the ducts and dispersing across the catwalk. Heat had melted the snow, Mirts said, and some of the water had found its way to a small crack in the roof.
Mirts called the two head coaches to half court, a few steps away from the soggy white towel on the ground. They shook hands and the game was over.
Stevens and his teammates sat on the sideline in disbelief. The four consecutive losses had all come on the road, and Hickman (7-11) had two home games scheduled this week. Snow had postponed Tuesday’s game against Ozark to Feb. 12, so the team got to play in its own gym for a total of eight minutes.
Now the Kewpies must head back on the road next week for games against Jefferson City and Liberty.
“We were hoping to get something going this week,” Stevens said. “Now we have to go to their home, so it’s a momentum builder for them.”
Hickman boys coach David Johnson said he and Lincoln Prep coach Reggie Ramsey talked about rescheduling the game, but Mirts said they most likely would not.
Lincoln Prep previously beat Hickman 70-65 on Dec. 9 in the McDonalds tournament at Blue Springs South. Johnson said winning the rematch at home was an opportunity to build momentum before the Class 5 District 9 tournament starting Feb. 21.
“This was going to be a great test for us,” he said. “We were sinking in and getting into a good ballgame.
“That’s about as far as we got.”
The early promise of forward Ernest Dorema made the cancelation all the more exasperating for Hickman. Dorema and fellow forward Cecil Williams missed all of Hickman’s early season games in the fall semester because they failed to meet academic requirements last year. Since returning, Dorema has averaged more than seven rebounds a game and given the small Hickman team a much-needed addition in the frontcourt. At the end of the first quarter Friday, he led the team with five points.
We brought in a couple of our big guys and they started to get in a rhythm,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to get some continuity since we haven’t that full strength at any time of the year. Here we had an opportunity to try to get there, and this breaks up some of the chemistry.”
Hickman travels to Jefferson City on Monday. The next day, the team goes to Liberty.
“It seems like we’re playing all of our games on the road,” Johnson said. “We can’t get a home game. The teams we’ve been playing on the road have been tough as nails. It’s been good for us, but it’d be nice to play some of them in the comfort of our home crowd. Now we have to refocus our attentions on Jeff City and going down there.”