If the last year has taught the world anything, it should be appreciation. My world this time of year — and most of the year — centers around basketball. It was almost taken away from all of us at last year’s boys’ state basketball tournament.
It was taken from kids last spring and summer playing for their club teams, but the NSAA brought sports back last fall. Not just basketball, but fall sports. If you remember, most of the state participated in fall sports.
As the virus spread, concerns were raised. Some didn’t agree with the decisions to play sports or even have in-person learning. That’s not what this is about. It’s about appreciation.
What the NSAA, it’s member schools, players and athletes just pulled off in 12 days with the girls’ and boys’ state tournaments is remarkable.
Yes, I know the ticket process and referees were always horrible. I know there isn’t a shot clock, which dominated the discussion at times, particularly on Saturday morning. I know you don’t like the music in the arena at times. I even know some of you don’t like me walking in a hallway with players and coaches after winning a championship.
We should be appreciative of a Saturday that saw twins win their second title, a win streak extended to 62 games with a three-peat, a team that defied the odds after losing a subdistrict final, and a coach that tied the all-time record for wins and won his 11th title.
We should appreciate Tim Cannon. Not just Tim Cannon the basketball coach, but the human. Coach Cannon has impacted countless lives and has come up short more than once in the state tournament. For him to win one with the second-most talented — see last year’s Mustangs — team he has ever coached is emotional. And we saw that on the court and in the postgame press conference.
We all should be appreciative of the ridiculously high level of basketball that was played in the Creighton Prep/Bellevue West semifinal on Friday. Not to mention Creighton Prep coach Josh Luedtke coaching a three overtime game filled with the emotion of loosing his father the day before. The Class A final with four minutes of back-and-fourth scoring. Will we ever see that again?
We need to appreciate the collection of talent that we all got to witness the last few years. Chucky Hepburn, Hunter Sallis, Saint Thomas, Frankie Fidler and the many, many others that I’m missing will only be rivaled by the 1981-82 era and 1991-92 era. What I mean is not just one dominant team, but the balance of success the teams and players had.
Thank you all. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents and fans. We should all appreciate each other more.