How many tomorrows are left?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2000

Sports Editor

Well, area basketball players, are you a little nervous this week?

If you’re not, you sure as heck should be. This week is what it’s all about. It’s the things both dreams and nightmares are made of – the post season.

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With those few regular-season games being finished up early this week, each team will get its chance come Friday or Saturday to prove that they has what it takes to move on to the next level. That’s an opportunity many coaches and players might relish, but it is also a time of elimination and closure for others.

Records are tossed out the window and the rest of the year is decided in four quarters of basketball. There will be favorites and underdogs, but as any coach will warn you time and time again, anything can happen come tournament time.

Personally I’m excited as a pyromaniac in a fireworks manufacturing plant. I love this time of year. I get those little goose-pimples running up and down my spine just thinking about it.

I could be watching two teams that I have never met, covered and have no interest in whatsoever, but tournament play always seems to get to me.

The big plays, who steps up and takes the shot and which team has the hunger to move on after the buzzer sounds. That’s what I think about when I think of Area Tournaments and the State Playoffs.

Like a bunch of animals friends, family and fans start sensing how important every single play is and how any second there could be a turning point. There’s nothing like sudden-death elimination to motivate a good game.

Want some first-hand knowledge on the whole tournament and state playoff madness just itching to hit the state’s public school systems? Well, don’t look to far to find examples. The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots and Lady Patriots ended a great season recently with losses in the Region Tourney leaving them both without bids to the AISA State Playoffs.

If the pain wasn’t evident enough on some of the PLAS boys’ faces after their 48-36 loss to Glenwood, or the Lady Patriots after their loss to Macon-East, then all you had to do is try and talk to some of them briefly afterwards. The Pike Liberal girls fell victim to a late offensive surge by Macon-East while the Patriots lost in a game that not only would have given them a Region championship, but was also their only ticket to the big dance.

The Patriots used some last second heroics to get to the title game on a shot by B.J. Powell in overtime that knocked off the No. 1 seeded Lee-Scott Warriors. The contrast between the two experiences must have been completely draining. Can you imagine?

One day you are on top of the world with what is essentially a stay of execution as far as your high school basketball career is concerned. Then, the next, you’re being presented the runner-up trophy and walking papers. No more practices, no more Friday night matchups. Just an empty gym and another year’s worth of memories. It’s a harsh reality, but that type of thing is common place in high school sports.

Now for Charles Henderson, Pike County and Goshen the waiting is almost over. In the world of high school basketball or any sport during playoff time tomorrows are never guaranteed. They must be fought for and earned, which makes them all the more precious.

Some teams win and others must lose. The names and faces are countless and the stories, while very different in their own way, have been written time and time again.

So, this week we will say goodbye to a number of our high school athletes once again as they are eliminated from contention. Yet, at the same time, we will exalt in those who move on to the next level and know that there is still that chance, however faint, that the ultimate goal can be attained.

After all is said and done, there will be only one winner in each class at the end of the year. All the other playoff participants will end their seasons with a loss. With hundreds of teams in their wake, one team will raise that championship trophy and they ALONE will truly be able to call themselves champions.

Well, it all starts this week. Birmingham awaits guys and gals, LETS GO GET EM!