Notes from the State Basketball Championships.
By Tom Danehy
THE AIA SCREWS up, example No. 867: For reasons known only to...well, I don't know if they're known to anyone who could actually articulate them, but the Arizona Interscholastic Association holds its state basketball championships at America West Arena (AWA) in Phoenix. This adds a certain glitz to reaching the state semi-finals (as in the vernacular statement, "We're going all the way to America West"), but the upside is swamped by the hideously machine-like way the tournament is run by the AIA and AWA.
For teams lucky enough to make it to AWA, they are greeted with a cold efficiency that sucks just about all the fun out of the situation, then uses the stolen energy to cook the arena's hot dogs, which are then sold for $8 each. Mustard extra.
With several games being played on one day, it's important to keep things moving along, but the people there take diabolical delight in their precision. They're the kind of people who liked H.R. Haldeman's haircut and thought Mussolini was an alright guy because he made the trains run on time.
They reached a new low last Saturday night after the Tucson Sahuaro-Page game for the Class 4A state girls basketball championship. Defending champion Sahuaro was playing without its two All-State players. Kelliann Glowacka had injured her knee in the quarter-finals, while point guard Katie Bruns had damaged her shoulder diving for a loose ball in the semis.
Leading 38-33 with about six minutes left, Sahuaro would suffer the agony of watching Page score the last 10 points of the game to win, 43-38.
Emotionally spent from the ordeal and the near-miss at a title repeat, the Sahuaro players sprawled on the floor with tears flowing. But the AIA droids hurried onto the court and told the girls they had to stop crying, get off the floor, and go TAKE A PICTURE WITH THE RUNNER-UP TROPHY!!!
Hey, we know you're 16 or 17 years old and this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some of you, but we didn't schedule time for you to have emotions. We've got another game to put on, so move it!
A FEW TIDBITS about the precarious nature of high-school playoff basketball:
Finally, a note to those who cover high school sports. The teams that win the regular-season titles are the official conference champions. As for those teams that win the regional tournaments, all they win is a home game in the first round of the state playoffs. That's it. I saw more misinformation on that one point this year than I've ever seen before. So cut it out, although you're otherwise doing a fine job.
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