By Ryan Divish/ Havre Daily News Sports Editor
So this is how it ends for Northern's proudest warrior? A lost ball out of bounds.
There must be some mistake. Check the script again. There is must be some misunderstanding.
This feel good story isn't supposed to end with hurt, pain and disappointment. It supposed to end with victory, glory and triumph.
Charlie Ereaux has given too much of himself to the game of basketball, to have basketball treat him like this.
Even though a basketball is supposed to perfectly cylindrical, they sometimes bounce in strange ways. Kind of like life itself.
Nobody knows that better than Ereaux.
Following graduation from Hays-Lodge Pole, Ereaux's life bounced from the Marines, to Napa Community College in California, to Dawson Community College in Glendive and finally to Northern.
Even though he found a home and some peace, basketball was still bouncing Ereaux around last season. He played sparingly when he got to play at all. His mixture of hustle, heart and hard work didn't translate into playing time in Brian Harrell's system.
Even though Harrell didn't see it, the Northern fans could. They applauded the fact that Ereaux would dive on the floor for a loose ball and basically would run through a wall if he thought it would help the team win.
It was an attitude that more players on last year's team could have used.
With Harrell's resignation and the hiring of new coach Shawn Huse, basketball was once again bouncing out of control for Ereaux. Huse was fully prepared to start fresh with a whole new team. However, through conversations with Ereaux and people associated with the program, Huse decided to keep him around.
Ereaux wasn't going to let Huse regret that decision for a single second.
From the first day of summer pick-up games, Ereaux's mentality changed from a willingness to run through a wall to win, to a willingness to run through two walls, a forest of razor blades and field of salt to win.
Ereaux was staring consistent playing time in the face and he wasn't going to blink.
And what you know, the attitude overcame the attributes.
It didn't matter that he was only 6-4 trying to play against guys 6-8 and taller.
It didn't matter that he was 27-years old chasing and banging with guys three years younger, who didn't hurt the way he did after a long weekend.
It didn't matter that his opponents main concern off the court was going to class and getting better at Playstation 2, while he had to worry about being a student, a husband, a father and a role model for young Native Americans.
Ereaux overcame all of that by simply playing harder than his opponents. If they didn't know it at the beginning of the game, they knew it at the end.
Take a play off? Not hardly.
Maybe catch your breath on defense? Nope.
Not jump, tip, scrap and fight for just one more rebound? Never.
It took so long for Ereaux to make it to the floor, they were going to have to drag him off of it kicking, screaming and fighting.
Ereaux wasn't about to give up basketball, they would have to take it away.
Instead, basketball took itself away from Ereaux.
He had done the move a thousand times this season and a million times in his life. Grab the ball with authority and use your arms to clear space with a power dribble all of which set up that awkward, yet accurate jumpshot. It was one of the few things of certainty in Ereaux's existence.
Instead, the basketball bounced awkwardly again for Ereaux, right out of bounds.
Everything that Ereaux had overcome and worked for to get to this point, rolled off of his finger tips and out of bounds.
If there is any irony in this, Ereaux was playing perhaps his best game of the season. He had game-highs in points and rebounds and if he got that shot off it would have been his highest scoring game as a Light.
Instead a career that feels way too short, ends almost as quickly as it begun.
It wasn't the way his senior season, his college basketball career, was supposed to end. Sure, making it to the NAIA National Tournament would have been tough. But to lose to a team like this, it just didn't feel right.
In the movies, the good guys always win in the end. Unfortunately, that's not the case in basketball.
Still, people have underestimated Ereaux too many times to think he's down. He'll get back up. He has a wife, a new son and will be graduating soon with a degree in physical education. He hopes to be a teacher and a basketball coach. Basketball will still be there too as he will suit up with his beloved Fort Belknap Bullfrogs and travel to tournaments around the Northwest.
College basketball has ended for Ereaux and its a shame, but a new life, a new world with his family is beckoning. Anybody who has met him, knows that he will succeed at what he ever put his heart into. He will run through a wall, if he has to.
Charlie Ereaux's story isn't ending, it just beginning, and this time the ball will bounce the right way.