The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
One of the best parts of high school basketball in the state of West Virginia is that every team has the opportunity to play in the postseason, regardless of their record. Because of this blessing that has been bestowed upon every prep team in the Mountain State, the campaign is broken up into two seasons: The first season, which is more commonly known as the regular season and the postseason, which has also been tabbed the second season. The first season isn’t as important because the total of wins or loses doesn’t really matter; at least that is what some hoops fans would want you to believe. If you subscribe to that theory, then you might also subscribe to the theory that regular season contests are somewhat watered down versions of what they should really be valued for, but I’m here to tell you that they are of importance both on and off of the floor.
On the hardwood, the first season provides two of the biggest components needed to garner playoff wins – momentum and home court advantage. For Example, take the hottest girls and boys teams in our area, Lincoln and Notre Dame. As of last week, Rob Hawkins and the Lady Cougars had won 7 of their last 8 games dating back to January 27th. Jarrod West and his Fighting Irish squad finished the regular season on a seven game win streak. Both of these teams have a large load of momentum heading into the most significant segment of the second season. The other distinct advantage stemming from a quality regular season is higher seedings. The two teams listed above earned top seeds and in the process garnered the right to play on their own floors. The old saying that there is no place like home sings true for high school hoops, where a loud crowd could provide the adrenaline rush needed to propel a team on to victory.
There are also benefits that will last long after the playing days of these current participants. The teams that work hard is both practice and in games on a day to day basis, tend to become extremely successful in the game that matters the most – Life. The two have many similarities that indeed parallel each other. Both require hard work on a daily basis without any given reward. In fact, in practice just like in life, the scoreboard is turned off and no one really knows if you win or you lose. However, that effort is measured down the road when games and evaluations are involved. Adults are expected to work hard every day and the ones that perfect their trade are compensated accordingly, just like the winners of the high seeds are.
The first season prepares teams for the second season. There is no question that the amount of pressure ramps up in the postseason. If you lose, then your season is over, at least in most cases. The one exemption is the sectional final. Once squads get to that game, win or lose, they will have the chance to advance to the regionals and a win there propels them to the Promised Land – the State Tournament in lovely Charleston. It’s confusing to some, but the intention is to get the best teams to the state capital
Ironically, some of the same theories carry over to the second season. Purists of the game of basketball feel that the loses of the sectional final should wrap up their season at that junction, because those teams won’t play up to their potential knowing that win or lose, they will play on. There is still major motivation behind that tilt. The winning group gets to stay home and play in front of their fan base, while the loser, in many cases, travels a substantial distance for their lock-up. It seems that every year there are a handful of traveling teams that make it to the big dance, which proves that this system does work. The best teams get through and they aren’t penalized for being located in the same area as another top tier team. The second season is here and now the fun can begin. Good luck to all county teams still in the hunt.
That will do it for now. Until next week … take care and God Bless!