The final tallies are in and we have our first survivors to the Elite Eight (details below). We also have our first weekly winner-- congratulations to Karen Grisham. She was the only one of our 10 entrants that correctly picked one of the Elite Eight survivors, picking H.G. Wells over Ray Bradbury in the Fantasy & Science Fiction bracket. Indeed, Karen missed only 1 "game" in the F&SF bracket, incorrectly choosing Kurt Vonnegut over Terry Pratchett, but nailing every other game, for 11 out of 12 possible points. This was enough to balance out her showing in the Mystery Division, where she picked only two first round games correctly, for a grand total of 13 out of 24.
Thirteen was enough to edge out Gail Weber, who registerd 12 points and who correctly picked three of the four Sweet Sixteen "players". She missed both finalists, however, incorrectly picking Dorothy Sayers and Ray Bradbury to win their respective brackets. In third place was David Vander Pluym and Eric Weber, with 8 points apiece.
Mystery Bracket Final
It was a battle of the old against the new, the classic detective story against the newer, less refined who dunnit. The grand dame, Agatha Christie, #1 overall seed, one of the best selling authors of all-time (most likely second only to the Bible), and a brilliant long-range jump shooter and strong defender. Against Janet Evanovich, a comparitive newcomer, but still the #2 overall seed and an author whose books consistently storm the bestseller lists. Also possessor of a wicked hook shot and some strong post moves.
It promised to be a titanic struggle, and neither author disappointed. Christie opened strong, surging to a 4-1 lead on the strength of some fine long-range shooting, but then Evanovich seemed to find her legs, driving past Christie for several easy layups and surging to a 5-4 edge late in the game. But Dame Agatha showed why she is a champion, coming up with another long range dagger of a shot that swished through with nothing but net. 5-5 and it looked like we were heading to overtime. But there were still a few ticks left on the clock and Evanovich inbounded so quickly, she caught Christie by surprising, perhaps Agatha had assumed that Evanovich would call for a timeout. Regardless, Ms. Evanovich stormed down the court in a flurry, then launched a beautiful, high arcing shot just before the buzzer rang out, the ball catching rim, backboard, rim again before, finally, settling into the basket for the game winner, 6-5.
The win moved Evanovich into the Elite Eight where she will match up with the winner of the Fantasy & Science Fiction bracket in week five. Always classy, Christie shook Evanovich's hand and wished her well, challenging her to continue her fine play and to "win the whole thing, then, won't you?"
Fantasy and Science Fiction Bracket Final
The contrasts weren't quite as sharp in the the F&SF final, though the fact that H.G. Wells is dead and Ray Bradbury isn't had to be a concern for fans of Mr. Wells. No need to worry, as Wells jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, perhaps catching Mr. Bradbury by surprise with his quick, spinning drives down the lane and ability to stop on a dime, then elevate for a clean jumper. Or perhaps Ray came into the matchup with a false sense of his inevitability after the 10-0 thrashing he had administered to Isaac Asimov in the previous round.
Either way, a timeout gave Bradbury a chance to regroup and he settled into his typically strong defensive game, punctuated by several rim rocking dunks as he went on a five to one run that put him up 5-4 midway through the fourth quarter. With Bradbury's faithful rocking the house, Mr. Wells' supporters we're holding their breath, no doubt wondering if the granddaddy of 'em all had enough in the tank for one last hurrah. Showing tremendous vitality for someone who had been dead for over sixty years, Wells did indeed dig deep, launching a picture perfect jump hook over the outstretched fingers of Bradbury to tie the game. On the ensuing possession, Wells played tight, man to man defense, eventually picking Bradbury's pocket on what could have been the game winning drive for the author of Farenheit 451. Instead, it was the auther of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds that stormed down the court for a finger roll layin just seconds before time expired.
And so we have our first week 5 pairing, with H.G. Wells and Janet Evanovich playing for a shot at the final four. But that is still a few weeks off. First, we must see what happens in the other brackets. Stay tuned!