TIME OUT by Joe Flanagan

“And into the stretch they come!”
It’s a cry made famous in horse racing circles, but can certainly apply to this time of year in high school basketball.
As we get into the heart of February, teams across the state begin that final push to fulfill their pre-season dreams. The post-season sub-district and district tournaments begin what teams have practiced and prepared long and hard for – the chance to play in March at the state tournaments in Lincoln.
In some cases, teams have high and realistic expectations of reaching that goal. Such is the case for the Boone Central Lady Cardinals, 16-4 this season and seeking a third straight spring trip to the state capital.
Other squads, like this year’s young BC boys team, fall into more of a long shot category. However, each year we see instances of such long shots beating the odds and accomplishing the unexpected.
The most important thing, for all teams, is having the chance to compete in the post-season atmosphere and performing to the best of their ability. For some, it will mean sweet success. And for those who fall short, it can still provide valuable experience that may well bear fruit down the road. Sometimes you have to lose a couple of these games before you know how to win one.
After all, learning lessons through competition is what high school athletics are all about. In professional sports, it’s all money, entertainment and winning, usually in that order. Even at the college level, athletics have become, to a large extent, a business … and business is fueled by success.
Yes, there’s certainly a drive to win in high school competition as well. As there should be. Everyone likes winners and wants to be one. But it’s not the be all, end all at this level. There are valuable lessons that benefit athletes in many ways on both sides of the success scale.
The famous inscription at Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium is apt: “Not the victory but the action; Not the goal but the game; In the deed the glory.”
Boone Central teams have lived up to those words and ideals, and they’re better for it.
The Lady Cardinals haven’t won every game the past three years and haven’t played at their peak each night. It’s never been for lack of effort, though.
Likewise, the Boone Central boys have had problems with inexperience and inconsistency in 2010-11, but they’ve always played hard, and that will certainly prove beneficial in the future.
We hope to see long post-season runs by both Cardinals teams. But, win or lose, enjoy the experience and applaud the effort. Our athletes have worked long and hard for the opportunity and, no matter how they ultimately fare, will reap many rewards, in ways large and small, from the journey.

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