You know that Community Chest card in Monopoly that tells you to take $45 because you've captured second prize in a beauty contest?
Have you ever drawn it really late in the game when there are hotels on every property and $45 isn't enough to fuel your little one-seat car for one trip down the Baltic-Income Tax-Vermont side of the board?
It's a deflating feeling. It's boring. You've wasted a turn that you could have used to make some big-money deal.
Well, Lawrence High was second in the Topeka West beauty contest last week.
Figuratively, of course. The Lions really were fifth in the Topeka Invitational Tournament.
But going into an eight-team tournament as one of the top two seeds being upset in the first round as LHS was by Highland Park last Wednesday produces roughly the same feeling as drawing that beauty contest card.
That's why the TIT was, ultimately, a success for the Lions.
SURE, TO start with, they were the basketball equivalent of the Monopoly-playing simp who doesn't buy property on his first trip around the board.
They played poorly. Senior guards Reggie Mayo and Chris Marshall scored five and six points respectively. Mayo averages 13.5; Marshall 11.9. Even though leading scorer Maurice Trotter managed to drop in 20 points, he shot well below his average.
But Lawrence came back to win its next two games and that probably wasn't as easy as it seemed. Playing the 1:30 p.m. game is, well, like drawing that card that awards you $45.
"We consider (the tournament) a success because we came out of 2-1," LHS coach Ron Weber said. "We were disappointed with that Wednesday game, but we played well in the next two."
THE LIONS were supposed to beat Class 4A Atchison and Class 5A Kansas City Sumner, who together had a record of 3-18.
And they did. And they improved along the way:
Forward Craig Butler started for the first time all season and, in just two games, pulled his scoring average from 6.8 point a game to 9.1. And the Lions learned they can survive without Trotter if thay must. The 6-2 center sat much second half against Sumner and, still, LHS pulled away and won.
"I knew we'd be right about where we are after 10 games," Weber said. "The first two we played tough and lost close games. I knew once we got that first win the confidence would help."
The Lions are a dominating 5-0 in the Sunflower League, but they are not the only undefeated league team.
Shawnee Mission West has played five games against league teams so far, but only three have counted toward the league standings. Throw out a season-opening loss to SM Northwest and a win over Olathe North and they, too, are undefeated at 3-0.
So, Friday's game is a battle of league unbeatens. The last battle of league unbeatens.
The Sunflower title is the Lions' to win or lose. They have just three league games left and two, SM West and SM Northwest, are at home.
SM West, meanwhile, has five league games remaining and three are on the road, including trips to LHS and SM South.
If this seems confusing, it is. There are only 32 Class 6A schools in the state, and at least a dozen of those are out of driving range.
THAT MEANS that A) the nine teams in the Sunflower League end up playing each other a lot even though B) there are too many teams in the league to have home-and-home series each year.
Don't worry, though. Divisional play is only a couple of years away when Olathe East High School is built and becomes the 10th Sunflower League school.