Sunday, March 17, 2013

Section II For The Win...Seriously

Sports are the best.

There, I have said it. I suppose it's ok, after all, I do get paid to write about sports. But, let's be honest, I really, really like sports and I might be a little biased. On Saturday, I spent my day - as I spend most of my days - watching sports, camping out at the Glens Falls Civic Center for the New York State boys basketball tournament where I watched THREE Section II teams crowned the best in the entire state.

It wasn't just at the Civic Center though - the Troy girls were crowned top of Class A back at Hudson Valley Community College and as the clock struck midnight, signalling the end of basketball Super-Saturday (that's what I'm calling it), the Capital District was the brand-new home to four state championship teams. 

And it was awesome.

Now, Section II has faced some serious adversity this year. Let's not get into that here, because, frankly, this isn't the venue or the time to discuss that. I'm all about the positive here.

Saturday was a positive day, to say the least. As a basketball community we went FOUR FOR FOUR in state finals - crowing three boys champions and one girls champions back down the Northway at HVCC. How can you possibly not smile when you hear that? You can't.

Now, this is where we get back into why sports are the best thing in the world; at least in my opinion.

I had been at the Civic Center for almost 11 hours when the Watervliet boys basketball game went into overtime. I was stressed, I was exhausted and I think I had written snippets of at least eight stories so I was ready for any outcome. But, despite all of that craziness, as the clock wound down in OT, I watched as Jordan Gleason dribbled down the court, looking to draw out the time for the final buzzer.

Gleason tossed the ball across the court to fellow senior Tyler McLeod who pulled the basketball close to his chest and simply stood there as the time wound down. The buzzer sounded and McLeod stayed still for a second; just a split second. There was a look on his face that made it all worthwhile for me as a journalist and a professional purveyor of sports.

It was absolute and unadulterated joy. They had won. They were champions. They were the best and it was obvious that all the hard work, all the struggles and trials and tribulations were worth it.

Because this moment was more important than anything in the entire world.

Sports are not easy. Someone always has to walk off the court with a loss and only a few teams in the state can wrap up their season with a victory.

Sports are hours of practice, pushing through drills and running over plays until you think you could recite the motions in your sleep. Sports are listening to your coach scream at you when you make a mistake and hugging that same coach after a victory.

Sports are a unifier. They're a chance to be bigger than ourselves, to put our faith and our hopes in a game that lasts for only a few hours on a court or field or a diamond.

High school sports are a whole different breed. High school sports are playing for the sheer love of the game. These are not professional athletes, these are not college students. These are 16, 17, 18 year old kids and they just love to play.

The four Section II teams that were crowned champions on Saturday love to play. It was apparent every single time I saw them this season and while I couldn't see every single title game, I know that love of the sport was obvious on the faces of every single member as soon as that final horn sounded.

Let's all take a moment to think about just how incredible Super-Saturday was.

The Watervliet boys went through forfeited games and the shadow of an almost-championship from last year. They are now champions.

The Argyle boys have been sparked all season by senior Joey Lufkin who is not only the leading scorer in Section II but one of the top scorers in the country. They are now champions.

The Lake George boys had only two losses this season; to Argyle in Adirondack League play. They are now champions.

The Troy girls went into the local tournament with a controversial #1 seed and proved they deserved to be considered the best. They are now champions.

I don't know if something like Super-Saturday can ever happen again in Section II or if for that one fateful moment the metaphorical basketball stars were all aligned and we got the chance to see some of the best talent in the area have their chance to shine. Honestly, I don't know if it matters.

Super-Saturday happened it was incredible. It was emotional and full of talented kids playing sports exactly the way they are meant to be played; with heart and determination.

Congratulations to all our Section II teams who took the court this season, but in particular to those four squads who proved they were the best in the state. Saturday was incredible and I don't think I've ever been more proud to cover this area as a sportswriter.

Section II for the win because sports are the best.


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