Good Luck

August 26th, 2019

earlwattcolormugBy EARL WATT

• Leader & Times

There’s a reason Cinderella is associated with basketball.

More than any other sport, underdogs make their mark in March when the spotlight glows the brightest and records are thrown out for 32 minutes of a high school basketball game.

Olathe Northwest is wearing the glass slipper at the Kansas Class 6A State Tournament having knocked off the East Division’s No. 1 seed in the Sub-State championship before knocking off the West Division’s No. 1 seed in the first round of the state tournament.

That team happened to be the Liberal Lady Redskins. 

Northwest had a 12-7 record to start the post season and had lost two of their final three regular season games.

Call it lightning in a bottle, but they hit their stride in Sub-State, and it continued against the Lady Redskins Thursday.

The Ravens hit four threes in the first quarter, and Sarah Gueldner had 28 points midway through the third quarter when Northwest opened up an 18-point lead on the undefeated Lady Redskins.

Gueldner would be held to just three points from the free throw line late in the fourth quarter while the Lady Redskins put together a 14-0 run and cut Northwest’s lead back to four early in the fourth quarter.

But the Ravens were able to do just enough to prevent the Lady Redskins from gaining the lead, and Liberal suffered its first loss of the season after they had to start fouling late and fell 57-46.

Many tears were shed by both the players and fans. Very high expectations were placed on these girls, and this loss doesn’t mean those expectations were too high.

There’s a reason it’s called March Madness. 

All bets are off when a team reaches the state tournament. At that point, they have accomplished something very special, even if there is more that can be done.

But it truly can come down to a flip of a coin. No one is guaranteed a state title, and teams that win it can look back at some fortunate bounces here and there that contributed to the story along the way.

For others, a great season can come to a disappointing end at the state tournament, and that was surely the case for the Lady Redskins.

Could they have won it? Absolutely. They were as good as anyone there.

Should we have high expectations for this group? Absolutely.

But those high expectations should be balanced with the reality of a state tournament and the difficulty of winning a state title.

This team was the first to turn in a perfect regular season and to reach 22-0.

They finished 22-1 with a Western Athletic Conference title, Salina Invitational Tournament title, Sub-State championship and state tournament appearance to their credit.

They represented Liberal with pride and dignity, and they can be proud of raising the bar so high. 

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