There’s just something about this time of year.
As February winds down and the snow (hopefully) starts to thaw, a sports phenomenon spreads throughout the country into every gym, every park and every driveway with a hoop.
Some call it “madness,” but I call it just plain fun.
Get out those brackets, because it’s time for the basketball tournaments, from high schools all the way up through every college level; boys and girls; men and women.
The area’s section girls’ basketball games started last night, only the beginning of a month that’s truly a high school sports fan’s dream — or a high school sports reporter’s, for that matter.
This will be my first postseason in the area, and I’m looking forward to it. The Section 3A girls’ bracket contains 10 teams in our coverage area, so a lot of our focus will be on those matchups. Southwest Christian fought its way to the South bracket’s top seed. The Eagles earned a first-round bye, along with Edgerton, Adrian and Fulda — and if the section games are half as exciting as some of those schools’ regular-season matchups were, it’s going to be an exciting tournament.
State gymnastics also get under way this weekend, and five local athletes will be competing — Tara Svalland from Worthington, and JCC’s Briel Hendricksen, Brandi Sether-Hassing, Morgan Halverson and Sydnee Donnelli.
Don’t forget about wrestling!
The state team competition brackets are already set, with Jackson County Central and Adrian each earning trips in their respective classes. This weekend, the individual sections take place, and most of the action will take place on Saturday at Worthington High School — the designated site for the 3AA individual tournament.
So that’s basketball, gymnastics and wrestling tournaments all taking place on one Saturday. Needless to say, we’re going to be busy. But we wouldn’t want it any other way.
It’s non-stop, do-or-die action, where the price of a ticket to the next round can only be met with a victory. It’s also bittersweet, especially for the athletes and their parents.
The postseason, with all its hope and heartbreak, brings with it a ruthless equation — divided by two with every advancing round.
Very few athletes get to go out with a win. The ones who do are a rarity, and will retain a special place in school history framed in a trophy case, or perhaps hanging from the rafters for the next generation of that school’s athletes to aspire to.
For many, it’s the last time they’ll see their son or daughter suit up and take the court, or the ice, or the mats (hockey tournaments are in full swing as well).
Whether it’s a first-round section matchup or a state championship game, it’s always going to be somebody’s final contest. Emotions usually run high, making it easy to get caught up in the moment.
But I’d ask all fans, parents, athletes and coaches to get caught up in the moment in a positive way.
There’s a saying, “Win with grace, lose with dignity, play with pride.”
Easy to say, a lot tougher to actually do.
Good luck to all the athletes in the upcoming section and state competitions!