Filling Out the Brackets

By Sandra Sylvester | Mar 24, 2014
Courtesy of: Andrew Carpenter 1922 RHS Women's Basketball State Championship Team

Knox County — Have you filled out your brackets yet? I’m talking about the brackets for the 64 teams in the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. If you haven’t, you’re a little late.

This is the first year in a long time that I have filled them out. My apartment complex will take $200 off next month’s rent if I get it right. I don’t know if that means the final champion or not, rules are still being decided. In any event, they have my picks. That would take a big chunk out of that monthly bill for us.

I won’t tell you what my picks are in case I’m terribly wrong and consequently have to hear about how bad I am at these things from all of you for the rest of the year. I will tell you that I picked three of the four teams that the President recently picked when he filled out his brackets that could possibly play in the Final Four Championship.

As for the women I will definitely tell you with no uncertainty that the UCONN Huskies will win the championship. Most of the teams they have played this year have lost to them by about 20 points. They might as well just hand them the trophy right now.

Let me tell you a little story about the UCONN women. Nanci and I were fortunate to attend the 2003 Women’s NCAA Basketball Championship Final Four Tournament when it was here in Atlanta. We got to spend some time downtown mingling with some of the players and coaches.

As you may know, the University of Tennessee Women Vols is a long-time rival of UCONN. Our beloved Pat Summitt of Tennessee and Coach Geno Auriemma met in the tournament seven times.

During the 2003 final game between these two rivals, Pat ended up throwing a chair onto the floor in frustration. Later on she swore she would attend UCONN’s graduation that year to make sure the four seniors on the team really did graduate so she would finally get them off her back. She also arranged it going forward that the two teams wouldn’t meet again during the regular season and into the tournament.

Well we lost our Pat when she had to retire because of early onset Dementia. We miss her, but guess what? This year the two teams are on opposite sides of the bracket sheet once again. And guess what again? I predict they will once again meet in the final game for the Championship. Funny how things go full circle, right?

Want to Win a Billion Dollars?

When the President was filling out his brackets I’m sure he had the contest Warren Buffett is sponsoring in mind. If you fill out the brackets correctly all the way through, you could win a billion dollars from Buffett. However, there are some pesky fine print items that you have to go through. I don’t know all the details, but if I even get half of the men’s brackets right, I think I’d send a resume to ESPN to be their next guru of brackets. The odds of winning Buffett’s offer is 1 in 7.4 billion by the way.

RHS Women’s Basketball Team, 1922

I know that our Men’s and Women’s RHS and RDHS basketball teams have probably gone to the state tournaments a few times. I ran across this Women’s team from 1922 which I ran in a story about women’s history month one March. They won the state championship in 1922. They finished 12-0 and outscored their opponents 430-20. The members of the team in this picture are from top down, left to right: Agnes Flanagan, Dorothy Breen, Coach William J. Sullivan, Kathleen Blethen, Clemice Blackington, Helen Griffin ad Eileen Flanagan.

The 1959 RHS Women’s Basketball Team

I played basketball all four years of high school at RHS. I played guard. In those days we only played half court. The forwards stayed on one side and the guards on the other. We threw the ball over the line to our forwards when we could get possession of the ball. Eventually there was a “roving” guard who played full court. I played that position for a while.

There was also no Title 9 in 1959. Basketball and Softball was about it for us girls. No track. No football, soccer. We did have a field hockey team at one point but it didn’t last long. There may have been women on the golf and bowling teams, but I’m not sure.

I’m surprised they even had a women’s basketball team in 1922. I notice they only had six members, however. What happened if one of them got injured?

The 1959 team members were: T. Ferrara, B. Richards, S. Peterson, J.Grispi, S. Hooper, C. Cross, E. Ilvonen, B. Staples, S. Sylvester (me), E. Saywood, K. Harvey, J. Knowlton, from the Priscilla (Andy) Smith, Coach Morris, Mgr. S. Sleeper,  and Mgr. J. Carver. (To view the photo that goes with these names please go to my blog space

My 1959 Varsity team had five wins and five losses that year. Camden/Rockport was our worst rival and they beat us twice, once by 16 points and once by 20 points. I remember one pretty bad scuffle we had with them which almost resulted in not being allowed to play them anymore. Just let it be said that our frustration resulted in some bad sportsmanship on our part.

High scorer for that year was Elsa Ilvonen. Our captain was Joanne Grispi. There were seven seniors on that team. I don’t know how they did the following year after we graduated.

The 1959 RHS Men’s Basketball Team

I don’t think I ever missed seeing a home men’s basketball game for the four years of my high school career. The games were played at the Community Building, which is now called the Recreation Center I believe. My girlfriends and I would push our way into the first seats near the rail up over the floor and scream our heads off. They even had programs. I still have a few in which I jotted down the stats for the game: baskets made, by who, fouls made, by who. If the ref didn’t call an opposing player out of the game after five fouls, we’d holler down at him and make sure he knew it.

After the game, we’d pile into the old DeSoto and head for Humptey’s on the corner of Park and Main to get a coke and maybe some French fries loaded with salt and vinegar. We’d be a boisterous gang whether we won or lost.

The guys didn’t do as well as the women that year. They went 5 and 13. The members of that team were: R. Brewer, J. Shaffer, R. Huntley, W. Montgomery, R. Keizer, F. Montgomery. Standing: Coach McGuire, L. Terrio, R. Hill, W. Barbour, B. Rubenstein, P. Stratton, J. Terrio, G. Stover, A. Walker. You can also see a picture of this team at the site above for the women’s team.


As basketball is king in my mind as far as sports go, I was the happiest woman on earth when the college women’s basketball players had a place to go after college. I watch their games gleefully every summer. I love seeing the women who did so well in college transfer all they have learned to the professional game. My favorite player is a UCONN player, DianaTaurasi, who now plays for Arizona. She was one of the players we got to watch back in 2003 in Hartford.

By the time this blog is posted it will be too late to fill out your brackets, so I hope you have completed that chore already. Good luck with your picks and thanks for listening.




Comments (2)
Posted by: Sandra Sylvester | Mar 28, 2014 14:38

Thank you for your comments, Helen.


Posted by: Helen Plourd | Mar 26, 2014 19:39

How about those satin blouses and shorts? I played on the basketball and softball teams. Our coach for basketball was a H.E. teacher, and Mr. Charles Grant was the softbael coach. Our games were played at Scholfield White Park where the ferry terminal is now. Girls were not allowed to play on the golf team. Mike DiRenzo tried to get me on the team but to no avail. We older players can appreciate title 9. Also, the school provided five gloves for the five best players. Can you imagine that flying today? Helen D. Plourd

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