This isn’t where I was supposed to be. Not sitting at my computer in the family room of my home.
No, the third Saturday in March, that’s supposed to be spent at the Giant Center in Hershey. At least most of the day was, as was most of championship weekend, in my opinion.
Right now I should be catching up on the sleep I’ve missed for the past two weeks because of the success of the Scranton Prep, Dunmore, Old Forge and Susquehanna girls basketball programs. Honestly, how many times in a guy’s career, at least someone who covers District 2 girls basketball, can you hope to have four teams reach the state quarterfinals, and who knows how many of those would have ended up on the floor of the Giant Center, just like Dunmore’s girls did a year ago.
Especially when all four of those teams were playing at their peak. That just doesn’t happen.
At some point there’s a stumble, or a bigger roadblock than you can imagine. Or every once in a while, a team might step on its own shoelaces. But these four were a little different.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we would have had four state champions this year. Goodness knows that just getting to Hershey is hard enough, let alone whatever awaits on the other side of the bracket. Worst thing about this is we’ll never know.
I know, I know. There have been no pronouncements yet that the season is over, but even if we were by some miracle able to start playing basketball, or even practicing for spring sports again, the kind of magic that those four teams experienced … man that’s tough enough to bottle once.
Yes, there were great individuals and teams standing in the path. Fellow unbeaten Bethlehem Catholic for Prep. Up next after its win over Neumann-Goretti was West Catholic, which had beaten N-G twice in three tries, and then the team it’s been hungry for all season, Delone Catholic, was on its radar. Old Forge had slick shooting District 6 champ Bishop Guilfoyle in its way, and Susquehanna had an unknown quantity in Northumberland Christian, a relative newcomer to the state picture.
Those four teams were chasing the Holy Grail that has eluded girls basketball in the Lackawanna League since Carbondale and Riverside won the area’s only girls PIAA championship in 1977.
Sadly there are no computer simulations to play out the games and crown a mythical champion or two from here, but what these teams have done might be even more important. They have elevated the level of respect for District 2, and in particular the Lackawanna League, at a statewide level.
Susquehanna’s Mackenzie Heath has run out of games to bury an opponent with one more crucial 3-pointer. She’ll graduate, but others don’t.
We won’t have the chance to see Prep’s Maria Belardi hit that one defining shot that is coming, the one to elevate a good player to great. Dunmore’s Elisa Delfino doesn’t get another chance to fill her big sister’s rebounding shoes, or hit the clutch shots, as she started to show she can in the win over N-G in the second round. Olivia Chulo will not be able to wow opponents or fans with her vast abundance of skills.
At least not until next season.
And after these last four months, who can wait?
Marty Myers began his career as a sports writer at The Wayne Independent in Honesdale, where he served as sports editor and later managing editor. After 10 years there, he joined The Times-Tribune in 1994 and has spent the ensuing years reporting on high school sports, local and professional golf. An award-winning journalist, he also enjoys his duties as a copy editor for The Times-Tribune, editing stories and designing pages. A native of Williamsport, Marty resides in Clarks Summit. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-348-9100 x5437 or @mmyersTT.