The Press Box For Week of Dec. 16
Last year I witnessed several basketball games where the final scores were by huge margins. Many of those wins came at the hands of local schools who were no doubt more talented, larger physically and all around better teams.
I also witnessed a ball game in Paden City where Wheeling Central won over Paden City on a last-second heave from beyond half court. No complaints – sometimes that happens. I saw Paden City take Magnolia, the eventual state champs, to the wire and the previous year thump them by 26 on their own court.
Last year, Cameron High School was the last team to defeat Magnolia’s basketball team again by 20 odd points. Not once did I hear Coach Tallman say keep the clock running or we got all the bad calls. That was after Magnolia had defeated Wheeling Central twice in the regular season.
This year so far I have witnessed a couple girls teams get thumped by 60 points. I am not a fan of mercy rules. I believe in winning. High school baseball has a mercy rule which I believe has cost some teams the opportunity to get hot and come back for the win.
Sometimes losing is tough, but the ability to accept defeat is often tougher. I find no fault in Magnolia’s coaching decisions in the 62-0 whipping of East Hardy. Paden City with only 13 players available took one on the chin against an Ohio playoff team, losing by close to 60, but Coach Croasman was gracious in defeat and congratulated Toronto on the win.
Blaming officials, field conditions or anything other than your own mistakes or lack of preparation, is hindsight and worse sportsmanship than being on the opposite side of a large margin victory.
Just maybe traveling long distance to the Super Six had an adverse effect on East Hardy. Who knows?
One thing I truly believe is officials don’t play favorites! They may not always make the right calls and that may be even more so in high school sports. But to say one team or another had an advantage because of calls on their home field is the same as calling them cheaters. I have witnessed many questionable calls in my years as we all have, yet I believe the crews are doing the absolute best they can.
West Virginia has a great playoff system, including holding the Super Six in Wheeling. Maybe all the games should be there, I believe Moorefield or Williamstown would have been better opponents for Magnolia in the Super Six but it wasn’t to be.
Wheeling Central lost to Magnolia in the regular season as well, that is part of why it never kept the home field advantage,. You have to be in the top group or travel. It’s part of the system but if we are going to limit the margins of victory by mercy rules, than let’s include all sports. Basketball included.
I once was hurting real bad for my team and my son after we lost a close game on what we felt was a bad call. We felt pain, agony and we hurt. However, when I looked to the other side, I saw a team happy, full of joy and laughter. Trying to analyze the situation something came to mind.
Not long ago when two of my brothers passed away, I felt even more pain. The hurt would not go away and then it came to me, while I was hurting along with many others, while we felt defeated, that those two were on the other side – the winning team – where there is joy, laughter and celebration. They had won the ultimate victory the battle for eternal life. While we all want our teams to win them all, it will never happen – not even in the battle for life and death.
My thoughts right now are with the area teams.
I want Tyler Consolidated teams to win. I want Paden City to win. Will it always happen? No! But we will keep cheering them on and hoping they do so.
Win or lose, we must be able to accept defeat no matter what the score. We must be able to accept the fact that we will not be in the state final every year. Football is over for another year, so let’s turn our attention away from the past and look to the future. Winning by large numbers does not make you a bad sport. And for those teams that fell from the playoffs, sometimes the best team does lose, but that doesn’t mean the field was stacked.
Have a good week and good luck to all area teams.