Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
I had hoped to write a triumphant post today about how my Ultimate team, Above & Beyond from New York, had qualified yet again for Nationals in Sarasota, Fla. later this month.
Our team, a group of Masters players over 33, had qualified for the Ultimate Players Association (UPA) Nationals four years in a row, reaching the finals in 2005 and the semis in ’06. (Here are a few pictures from ’05, with me holding up the runner-up trophy along with my then-10-month old daughter, Grace.)
But this year we came up short at Regionals in Boston this past weekend. Very disappointing for all of us who worked so hard during the year to prepare for the fall series.
While there were 16 teams apiece in the Open, Women’s and Mixed brackets at Regionals, there were six teams competing for two bids to Nationals in Masters. The New York teams in all three of those other divisions qualified for Nationals, so congrats to them.
It figured to come down to us, Boston-based Death or Glory (DoG), the defending National champion and former six-time winners of Open Nationals, and Canada-based Glum.
In pool play on Saturday, we played both teams to one-point games, losing an epic to DoG, 13-12, and later beating Glum, 15-14. We won our other two pool play games to finish 4-1 in round-robin play.
The quirky thing about the six-team format is that the top teams play each other again on Sunday, with 1 meeting 2 in a “game to go” to Nationals, and 3 facing 4 to advance to play the loser of 1 vs. 2.
We lost the 1-2 game, 15-12, to DoG, and Glum beat No. 4 Mount Crushmore, 15-8, setting up a rematch with Glum for the 2nd spot to Nationals.
What’s weird about this format is that there’s almost an advantage to finishing third in pool play because then you get an “easier” game on Sunday morning as opposed to playing a tough game against No. 1 and then having another tough game after that.
In five of the past six years, the No. 3 team has ended up getting the 2nd bid, and we were the one team to stop that trend when we went as the No. 2 a couple years ago.
Anyway, Glum was well rested after winning the 3-4 game and we were a little emotionally spent after losing 15-12 to DoG. But what are you going to do? You have to play the 1-2 game to try to go. And you can’t really throw a game on Saturday to finish third.
Without going into the gory details, we got behind early, 3-1, on a “break of serve,” meaning they scored after getting a turnover against our offense. We trailed pretty much the rest of the game and they took it to us to win 15-10.
Tough weekend, but as they say, there’s always next year.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.