Super Bowl weekend allowed me the chance to focus on an aspect of the sporting world that really excites: tournament basketball.
Nothing says desperation like one-and-done. Nothing says relief like survive and advance.
In tournament basketball, double-digit leads disappear as quick as one can say three-point shot. In tournament basketball, fans fret as stars go to the bench with early foul trouble. Moments later, those same fans rejoice when the reserve proves equal to the moment.
The spectre of elimination lurks behind every errant foul shot. Players go from hero to goat and back again in seconds. Throughout, the drama unfolds in the blessed heat of a packed gym while winter pounds on the door.
Woe to the team playing before a hostile crowd hurling insults from as little as five feet. In no sport is the crowd a bigger factor. And in no sport is a road win more satisfying.
As the clock winds down, the pressure ratchets up. There are no reps to fall back on. No plays to execute. The last 90 seconds of a close tournament basketball game are deliciously chaotic. The outcome as often as not decided by a mental mistake or a fortunate bounce.
I got a taste of whats to come when the Sacred Heart middle school girls team won the Macon Area Christian tournament during the weekend. Trailing by six at the half and saddled with heavy foul trouble, the girls rallied to win. One of the parents told me the adrenaline rush was like drinking five Cokes. I could not disagree.
Moments such as that will be repeated many times during the GHSA and GISA region and state tournaments that begin next week. I cant wait.
GHSA Region 2-AAAAA
Tuesday-Feb. 16 at Jones County
Boys: Northside has stumbled recently but still has the best talent and experience in the region. Others to state: Evans; Jones County and Warner Robins.
Girls: Mid-year addition of Alexia Williams gave Houston County added offensive punch. Others to state: Evans; Northside and Warner Robins.
GHSA Region 2-AAAA
Monday-Feb. 16 at Westside-Macon
Boys: Westside is the class of the league and the tournament is in its building. Others to state: Perry; Rutland and Veterans.
Girls: Chalk again for the girls. Mary Persons is clearly the best team in the region. Others to state: West Laurens; Howard and Westside.
GHSA Region 2-AAA
Tuesday-Feb. 15 at TBD
Boys: Top team gets a bye into the semifinals, but that team has yet to be determined. A tough non-region schedule seems to have Carver-Columbus prepped for the tournament: Others to state: Central-Macon; Henry County and Peach County.
Girls: A lot yet to be determined in this race. Several teams in the mix, so why not Peach County. Others to state: Pike County; Carver-Columbus and Henry County.
GISA Region 2-AAA
Tuesday and Feb. 15 at Tattnall Square Academy
Boys: Stratford has only lost once in 2013 and never in region. Others to state: Mount De Sales; Tattnall Square and Westfield.
Girls: These teams are consistently inconsistent. Westfields depth is always an advantage. Others to state: Mount De Sales, Stratford and Tattnall Square.
Contact Chris Deighan at firstname.lastname@example.org.