Court-Queen Showdown

Here's A Game With Class, Beauty And Basketball Know-How.

By Tom Danehy

FOR JUST THIS week, I'm hoping that you, the average Weekly reader, spend your Thursday mornings standing in front of a Circle K, politely telling people going in and coming out that, no, you don't need their spare change; you're just waiting for The Weekly to arrive. So if you get this on Thursday morning, there's still time to catch the Big Event this evening. To go along with the hype spirit of our times, it can only be characterized as The Coaching Matchup of the Century of the Week.

Squaring off at around 5:45 tonight in the Amphi High Gym will be the Salpointe and Amphitheater junior varsity girls' basketball teams. They're two of the best jayvee teams in the city. Heading into tonight's game, Salpointe is 14-2 and Amphi is 12-4.

Danehy But the game is mere subtext here. The real action is on the sidelines, where Salpointe coach Arlene Locklin and Amphi coach Rebecca Chilton meet in a battle of wills, a contest of coaching ability, and a real world-class Fashion-Off.

Both of these young women are good friends of mine and they're both outstanding basketball coaches. I wouldn't be surprised to see one or both of them head-coaching a college team within the next decade.

Rebecca started out as a preteen rodeo star, then went on to play basketball, volleyball, tennis and run track at Buckeye (Ariz.) High School. She also played volleyball and basketball in college. Arlene starred in basketball and softball at Tucson High, and attended Alcorn State on a basketball scholarship. (They don't play softball in Mississippi. Apparently, there's a law against hitting anything white with a stick.)

They are two of the most competitive people I've ever known, and neither is above using whatever she can, within the rules of the game (and the bounds of decency), to help her team win. I was playing a pickup game one day, and Chilton gave me an elbow that's going to give my grandchildren sore ribs. She plays defense like her next meal depends on it. And her favorite meal? Beef jerky. (No kidding.)

Arlene and I play together on a basketball team on Sundays. Last week she made nine three-pointers in a game. When the shell-shocked guys on the other team finally realized that "that woman can shoot," they went out on her and she drove through and by them for several easy layups. She and I are also the reigning doubles champs on the domino table, presenting an unbeatable combination of skill, finesse, wiles, courage, and me.

Rebecca and Arlene are good friends off the court; but get them in a competitive situation, watch out. Or perhaps just watch.

I have to be real careful here, lest I offend a person or group of people for the first time in my writing career. I do indeed see both of these young women as outstanding, dedicated professionals, working hard to make their kids better basketball players and people. However, I've heard from several single young men who probably know about such things that both Rebecca and Arlene are very attractive. I wouldn't know myself. I'm married, so I find only my wife attractive.

Both of them walk around most of the time in shorts, T-shirts and basketball shoes. But when they coach, it's like Donna Karan is keeping score and giving bonus points for aesthetics.

I first learned about Chilton (she prefers the last name, like Halston! or Versace) when I was coaching over at Salpointe a couple years ago. I'd seen her in casual situations around gyms before that, but when she got there to coach the game, she had on some slinky black evening pant suit and heels. I spent the entire game yelling over at her to stop flirting with the refs. And the refs kept telling me to mind my own business.

My team, which went undefeated that year, won. But it was by the closest margin of any conference game we had all season. She did a great job of coaching with that bunch, but being the good friend that I am, I like to ridicule her and tell her that she owes all of her success to her looks.

As for Arlene, she's always at the gym on Sunday, hanging out with the guys, playing ball and joking around. So when I see her at Salpointe, she's wearing this backless, sideless, frontless thing with slits up to her armpits and like, cleavage and everythang.

Last time the two teams met, Salpointe was led by Brianna Felix, daughter of former state senator Frank Felix. Poor Brianna is so slender, when she gives somebody an elbow, she doesn't leave bruises, she leaves paper cuts. But she's tough as nails.

Amphi is led by Charron (Shuh-ron) Campbell. Charron is lightning quick on the court, but off it, she walks around at the rate of about half-a-block-a-day. I started calling her Earl, explaining that she's possessed by the spirit of a 64-year-old white man whose interests run the wide range from yard sales on Saturday mornings to the swap meet on Saturday afternoons.

It should be quite a game tonight, the last one for both teams this season. Neither wants to end such a great season with a loss.

And after it's over, stick around for the varsity game. Salpointe is coached by my good friend and former UA player Kim Conway. She's 6-foot-3, except when she wears heels to coach, which make her 6-foot-5. Last time the two teams played, you should have seen the mini-skirt she almost had on.

All three women's teams are in first or second place in their respective divisions. It's talent and hard work that got them where they are, not looks. But just in case, so I won't be misjudged, I prefer to look like Rick Majerus when I coach. TW

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