As I was about to fall asleep Sunday night, a thought came to mind.
Between all of the high school championships decided in Macon last weekend and Mercer’s victory in the A-Sun championship game, the Middle Georgia area enjoyed a lot of special moments. It was almost as if the city was in celebration mode -- not all at once and not celebrating the same thing, mind you, but with several small celebrations breaking out for the various championship teams.
My thought: Could have there been many places that had more joyful occasions last weekend than Macon? Sure, other places had more drama, such as the Ohio state hockey championship that went through seven overtimes Saturday before a tie was declared. But with 21 high school championships decided in Macon last week, along with conference tournament championship victories by the Mercer men and the Central Georgia Tech men, it was hard to match the pure joy present in Macon.
Start with those GHSA and GISA basketball championships. Each one of those teams had their own stories to tell, their own journeys to the title to share.
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One of the first moments of championship joy I saw came Thursday, when Wilkinson County held on to beat Turner County in the GHSA Class A public school championship game at the Macon Coliseum. Torrico Simmons, with his family lending plenty of vocal support from the stands, had his moment in the spotlight, nailing five late free throws after causing the turnover that sealed the victory.
That’s a moment Simmons and his family will remember forever.
While Stratford’s student body gave Quintez Cephus quite a nice ride following the Eagles’ GISA Class AAA boys championship victory Saturday night at Hawkins Arena, there was another good story coming out of the Class A tournament.
Crisp Academy, a team that had no fear going up against larger schools during the regular season, cruised to its fourth straight GISA Class A girls championship. But it’s likely not the final special Hawkins Arena moment for leading scorer Madi Mitchell, who has signed with Mercer.
On the junior college level, the young Central Georgia Tech men won a region title for the first time, earning a spot in the national tournament. The event in Hutchinson, Kan., doesn’t receive much in the way of national publicity, but the tournament has quite a tradition behind it.
And then there was Mercer’s victory Sunday at Florida Gulf Coast, the victory that finally put the Bears over the one hurdle they couldn’t clear to get into the NCAA tournament. Those who went to ESPN3.com to see the extended postgame show saw a full range of emotions, from tears of joy to some flat-out indescribable dance moves.
Those emotions were all worth it. To cap the program’s incredible turnaround the way that it happened couldn’t have been more dramatic.
The NCAA tournament will bring a whole new round of highs and lows for Mercer. The viewing party the school scheduled for late Sunday afternoon will be a fun one. For a program like Mercer that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since the mid-1980s, just seeing the school’s name on the bracket will trigger a celebration, even if the worst-case scenario of a West Coast game against a team that provides matchup problems comes to fruition.
So, yeah, there was a lot of joy in Macon last week. And there’s more to come, at least this Sunday at Mercer’s viewing party -- and maybe in the Round of 64, too.
That’s one of the reasons why March is such a special month.
Contact Ron Seibel at 744-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org