Is there a word, or a term, that means more than "exciting?"
Or thrilling, exhilarating, action-packed, rousing, stimulating, intoxicating, electrifying, invigorating?
It would probably be best to say simply that what happened over the weekend involving local high school basketball teams was all those words – and then some. It was truly special, memorable. They’ll be talking about these games for a while – likely a long while.
The only team from The Suburbanite’s coverage area that’s still alive is the only one that was still alive last season when it was all said and done, and that is the Jackson boys.
The Polar Bears, who won the Division I state championship a year ago, are still in the running for such this time around after outlasting Canton McKinley 66-65 in two overtimes – two overtimes! -- in the Canton District Tournament title game on Saturday.
It was a contest for the ages, with Jackson (19-6) losing an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter and then having to regain its composure and top Federal League rival McKinley for the third time this season.
The Polar Bears’ reward for their emotionally-draining victory is a match-up against Copley (20-6) in the Cleveland Regional semifinals on Wednesday evening at 6:15 at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center. The Indians (20-6), who beat Green 47-44 in the Barberton District semifinals, advanced by holding on to defeat Hoban 67-60 in the championship game.
Like the Jackson boys, the Jackson girls were also outscored by eight points in the fourth quarter by Solon in the Canton Division I regional championship game on Friday night. They couldn’t survive it, losing 47-41 and being denied of their first trip to the state tournament this week.
Regardless, Jackson, with the success of both teams this season, established itself as one of the best overall basketball schools in Ohio.
The Manchester boys had even a tougher loss on Friday night, 69-68 to Triway in overtime in the Wooster Division III title game. The Panthers (17-8), who saw their seven-game winning streak end, fell to the Titans for the third time this season.
But this one was nothing like the first two defeats, which came by 23 and 12 points. Manchester led by 12 points entering the fourth quarter and was still ahead by five, 66-61, before Triway managed to score five points in the final 6.7 seconds, punctuated by a basket at the buzzer, to tie it and force OT. The Titans also got the game-winning points on a basket at the buzzer.
Just as it was for the Jackson girls, it was a bitter pill to swallow for the Panthers in letting one – a big one – slip away.
But both the Manchester boys and Jackson girls -- and their fans -- need to focus not on how their seasons ended, but on how they got there and how close – and exciting, or whatever word or term you want to use – their final games were. That’s the bigger picture.