A boisterous party at tipoff ended with the plaintive strains of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone” at Jack & Dan’s Monday night, as a crowd of Zags fans young and old streamed from the bar after watching the team’s second defeat in 2017 end its season.
“We are so proud of them,” said Mary Lou Courchaine, whose party had arrived before the doors of the bar opened Monday morning. “They put this town on the map.”
The popular Gonzaga hangout, just hours before, was thumping to the techno beat of “Zombie Nation” as the team took the floor. Busy wait staff carted pitchers of beer, trays of shots and baskets of fried bar food to a clientele that included students, alumni – anyone who’d simply grown to love the team during the three-week run of NCAA tournament success.
Adam Henderson sported a haircut, beard and jersey that had several patrons confusing him for famous Gonzaga big man Przemek Karnowski. Henderson posed for photographs with fellow fans as they tugged on his beard.
“I’ve got a table in the back,” Henderson said, pausing in the bustling corridor between the kitchen and bar. “But this is where it’s at,” he said, pointing to the dancing customers surrounding the bar.
Nearby, first-year medical student Sharon Uhder sat with a textbook flipped wide open to her notes for an upcoming test Thursday.
“There’s three places you could be for the game: Phoenix, the Kennel or Jack & Dan’s,” she explained.
Several fellow customers agreed, arriving several hours before tipoff at the bar made famous under the ownership of Jack Stockton and Dan Crowley.
A deck of playing cards under one hand, the other nursing a bloody mary, 70-year-old Michelle Connelly spent her third straight afternoon at the bar Monday, waiting for her two adult sons to join her.
“This is fantastic. It’s history in the making,” Connelly said. The longtime Moscow, Idaho, resident celebrated her birthday at the landmark watering hole Sunday, a day after sitting in a folding chair and watching the Zags best the South Carolina Gamecocks to make the national championship game.
Connelly, who spent a summer abroad in the late 1960s studying at a Gonzaga University satellite campus in Florence, Italy, said she knew the Zags would make it to the championship.
“With Mark Few, it was bound to happen,” Connelly said, naming off the recent Bulldog stalwarts who had gone on to play in the NBA: Kelly Olynyk, Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis.
Connelly, clad in a red Final Four Gonzaga T-shirt, said the best part about taking in the game at the institution that has earned a national reputation tied to the Zags was the mixing of generations inside.
At a table several feet away, recent alumni Will White, Jake Palmer and Ben Muyres polished off their beers and prepared to look for a more prime viewing spot on a bar stool.
For White, who like his friends in the bar moved to Seattle after graduating, the visit Monday was a literal homecoming. The recent graduate rented an apartment upstairs above the bar while attending classes at Gonzaga.
“I feel like I owe it to Spokane to come back here,” said White, before taking a final swig from his tallboy of Hamm’s.
The crowd, a mix of students and regulars all clad in Gonzaga blue, red and white, cheered the Zags to halftime, when the team held a three-point lead. Scott Wilson, an Australia native on a road trip from Calgary, Alberta, to Portland, said he ducked into the bar at 5 p.m. on the recommendation of a Google search.
“I have Gonzaga in my bracket,” he said. “Zags by 6.”
But it was the Tar Heels who pulled out the six-point victory, amid groans and more than one call for the heads of the referees. During a three-minute scoring drought early in the second half, fans chanted and pounded on the tables, trying to will the Zags back into the contest. It worked, as Karnowski finally scored and brought the crowd out of a stupor caused by North Carolina’s quick start to the second half.
As the customers streamed from the bar, heading home and giving a few last fading chants and rounds of applause for the Zags, White – the former upstairs resident – sat watching the postgame celebration for the Tar Heels.
“It was a good game,” he said.
Was it worth returning home to watch in Spokane?
“Definitely,” he said. “Definitely.”
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