With the winter sports seasons wrapping up on the high school level, it is time to get revved up for playoff fever.
Already the Buccaneers have sent two gymnasts to the State Gymnastics Meet, as well as two wrestlers to that sport’s State Meet.
The Buc gymnastics team as a whole had a great season, and came extremely close to being able to head to state for team competition. Just one other team in the section was better than the Bucs.
The wrestling team, too, had a powerhouse this year. But again, there was just one other team in the section that prevented the Bucs from heading to the state.
As this column is being written, the Buccaneer girls basketball team has won their first post-season game. The boys team starts their sub-section play this week.
The boys got the No. 1 seed, and the girls were seeded No. 2. Those are pretty heady accomplishments in themselves. Both teams started the season a bit untried and with some question marks attached as to how the season would go.
With the No. 1 seed in the girls bracket (WEM) knocked out in the first game, who knows what might happen in the rest of the games.
Just goes to show, when it comes to tournament time, anything is possible.
I have had some fun covering high school teams that have gone on to state tournaments. It is always fun, and always a time full of memories – both for the players and the school’s students, and also for the other fans.
They can be memories that last a lifetime.
Those memories can be a bit painful, too. Close losses in overtime remain in the brain just as long as that championship trophy.
And sometimes it is that memory of a close loss that just prevented the team from going on to ‘the big dance,’ which remains so vivid, even after many years.
At my high school in Aurora, Co., it was a district championship game against a cross-town rival. It was decided on a questionable buzzer-beating half-court shot.
At a high school I once covered, it was a blown lead. Ahead by 18 points with under four minutes to go, victory seemed secure. The winner would go to state.
The game was tied on a last second shot, and the underdog team won in the overtime.
For a well-known Blue Earth man, it was a disappointing end to a stellar season at an Iowa high school.
The 1967 yearbook from the school calls this team the greatest one this school has ever turned out.
They cinched the conference title early with a 13-1 record; their only loss to Storm Lake midway through the season.
They set a new school record for the most games won in one year with an 18-4 record. They also set a bunch of school records – most team points in one game, most field goals by team in one game, most free throws by a team in one game, best season offensive average.
There were also awards for most free throws by an individual in one game, and an individual career scoring high by one player.
The team and their fans looked forward to the playoffs. They were not disappointed.
These Midgets won the district finals by two points over Spencer on a last second shot.
But what comes around, goes around. In the finals of the Sub-State Tournament, they lost a heartbreaker to Sioux City Heelan.
So close to heading to state, but yet so far. The best team Estherville High School ever had didn’t make it to state.
One of their team members moved to Blue Earth. You can see he is still a big basketball fan, as he is at most BEA home games, sitting right in the front row.
And when you see Mayor Rob Hammond this week, and commiserate with him on that loss in 1967, be sure and wish him a happy 60th birthday on Thursday.