Long Shots

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
Undefeated no more!


Perhaps the toughest thing for any basketball team is to go unbeaten during the course of a season.


Four days ago, Duke University, one of the most talented teams in the country and the last of the unbeatens in NCAA basketball, was defeated by a talented Florida State team.


Once again, the possibility of an undefeated NCAA national champion has been erased.


The Duke loss inspired some personal curiosity about our local high school varsity basketball teams and other sports meanderings.


* * *


The team that came the closest to completing a perfect season was Hillsboro’s 1999 boys’ basketball team.


That outstanding team missed out on a perfect season on a last-second layup in the state championship game against Belleville.


Throughout much of the ’99 season, I remember telling myself that a regular-season loss might not be the worst thing in the world to happen to the Trojans.


High expectations generally bring about pressure-regardless of whether we admit it exists. And sometimes that pressure catches up with us.


Losing can be an important motivator for future success.


This season, the Hillsboro boys are again flirting with the possibility of a perfect season-and with it comes a bull’s-eye on the back. Every opponents suddenly gets tougher because they want to spoil the clean sweep.


* * *


Teams and coaches usually don’t like to talk about undefeated streaks.


I’m not sure why.


It rarely seems to ward off the inevitable, regardless of how hard teams and coaches try to ignore it.


* * *


KU decided to end their “undefeated season” early this season. Maybe Roy has figured out that losing early is better than losing late. Or maybe, we’ll just wait and see what happens later.


I’m a KU basketball fan, which also means I’ve earned the right to be cautious and skeptical.


* * *


The Kansas State women’s basketball team shocked the college basketball world with wins over nationally ranked opponents.


Moundridge product Laurie Koehn continues to show Cat fans why many people compare her to Claflin native and WNBA star Jackie Skiles.


* * *


The Marion boys’ basketball team and the Herington Railers hooked up in a Cottonwood Valley League matchup Friday night that was exciting to watch all the way to the final seconds.


Although the outcome wasn’t what Warrior fans were hoping for, the game was exciting nonetheless.


* * *


About a week or two ago, I visited the Marion High School wrestling facility. I walked in wearing a heavy coat and a pair of gloves.


After interviewing one of the wrestlers and talking with coach Chad Adkins, I left.


When I walked outside, I realized I was sweating-it’s no wonder wrestlers wear those singlets. That’s the only thing other than a comfy pair of underwear that would feel comfortable in that sauna.


* * *


I’m anxiously awaiting the results of the Feb. 5 meeting between the Peabody-Burns and Remington boys’ basketball teams.


In recent years, this matchup in both football and basketball has become increasingly competitive.


Both teams are playing well and it looks like this could be the Warriors’ year to make some noise.


* * *


Last week someone asked me what I thought it would take to be a basketball official. I told them it took a fast mind and an even faster pair of legs-to haul out of a gymnasium after a poorly officiated game.


I want to ask Joe Kleinsasser, my comrade sports columnist here at the Free Press and an official by night, just how fast he really is.


* * *


Finally, I have to take my hat off to those Kansas City Chiefs. Once again, they’ve pulled me back onto the bandwagon after playing some pretty good football down the stretch this season.


I’m convinced that next year will be the year the Chiefs will turn it around-but not before ripping my heart out.


I have learned one thing about KC this year: The greatest time to be a Chiefs fan might be the off-season.

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