Tournament time exciting and upsetting

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 3, 2006

The second season can be fun and exciting. It can be over as quickly as it begins, too.

The second season in sports is the postseason tournaments. High school basketball’s February Fever will eventually spill over into March Madness with the district, regional and state tournaments. For now, the sectional tournaments will whet the appetite of basketball fans.

Whatever happened during the regular season doesn’t always hold true in the postseason. The pressure of “win or go home” can take its toll. Teams not expected to win are loose and relaxed and therefore they are very dangerous.

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Big wins in the regular season don’t guarantee anything. Ironton stunned Huntington, W.Va., on Wednesday, but that was just one game. Huntington may have a quality team, but teams in the tournament will be of quality caliber, too, with excellent coaching.

Another factor is the progress of a team. A wise, veteran and highly successful coach — his initials are Bob Lutz — once told me that as the season goes along, you either get better or you get worse. Some teams get a little better while others get a lot better. That is one reason you see a team A lose to team B early in the season get a win late in the year in the second matchup.

Looking at the postseason, everyone is handing South Webster a ticket to the state tournament. But there are no sure things in the tournament. The Jeeps will meet someone like Worthington Christian in the regionals, so it won’t be easy.

Divison IV could be a blood bath. Chesapeake and Wheelersburg are the early favorites along with unbeaten Bellaire to represent the Southeast region in the state tournament.

Wheelersburg may have the best collection of talent of any team in the region regardless of division. One look at the Pirates 86-67 dismantling of South Webster on Friday shows that.

Chesapeake has made almost an annual trip to the regionals in recent years and looks primed for yet another run. If the Panthers continue to play well, coach Norm Persin may finally get that elusive trip to the state tournament.

Ironton is always a threat because of Dennis Gagai, but don’t overlook the rest of the Fighting Tigers who are playing well in coach Mark LaFon’s system.

If you’re going to talk about your dangerous teams, look no further than South Point. The Pointers have a godod perimeter game and they have a strong inside threat in Jeremiah Taylor.

On the girls’ side, Ironton has a chance to make back-to-back state tournament appearances. The Lady Tigers will rely on defense but they must generate more offense as they advance.

Of course, there are other teams who could put things together and make a run. After all, this is the postseason.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.