Brian Hamilton: Senior swan song rarely an easy ending
Unless the team you’re covering is one of just a handful of squads to finish its playoff run with a win, watching a season come to an end is always a tough assignment for a sports writer.
And serving as a reminder of just how tough the reality of postseason play can be, western Nevada County watched all four of its section-qualifying basketball teams be bounced out of the playoff picture in a matter of four days this week.
On Tuesday night, Forest Lake Christian’s girls ended up on the short end of an matchup between eight and nine seeds, when Valley Christian stunned FLC with a 63-61 win on the Falcons’ home floor.
Two nights later, both the Bear River and Nevada Union girls basketball teams fell on the road.
As the 16th seed in Division I, the Lady Miners knew they had drawn the toughest assignment in tipping off with top-seeded Oak Ridge and Stanford recruit Sara James. But even though they fell well short of a shocking upset, losing 77-27, the Lady Miners still played with pride until the end.
Over at Christian Brothers on the same night, Bear River led the host Falcons all the way to the bitter end, when a final-seconds free throw gave Christian Brothers its only lead of the contest for a brutally tough-to-take 56-55 Lady Bruin loss.
On Friday night, it was the Forest Lake Christian boys and four-year letterwinner Josh Ritchart who bowed out of the basketball playoffs. The Falcons suffered a 59-35 setback at Ripon Christian in the second round of the Division V playoffs.
Tight finish or not, the final game of a season is always a sour note. And it’s only even harder when it marks the actual end of a high school career.
Three Nevada Union wrestlers experienced that on Friday in Stockton at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament. Although Abraham Fish, Kyle Newman and Rafael Iriarte might very well go on to wrestle in college, the seniors will never again take to the mat for the Miners.
Likewise, all those seniors whose seasons were cut short on the hardwood this week won’t again wear basketball uniforms with the names “Bear River,” “Forest Lake Christian” or “Nevada Union” emblazoned across their chests.
That, of course, will be a tough thing for the seniors to shake, the sudden end to the passion they’ve poured their lives into for so many weeks, months and years.
Sometime soon, though, such sadness will subside and be replaced by what really matters, all of the memories they built that will last a lifetime.
Sure, the one that got away might always stick in your craw. But when you look back on your own glory days, what you’ll remember most fondly won’t necessarily be the wins or the losses, but the teammates with whom they were shared.
And you’ll think back to all of those offseason training sessions and the punishing practices in which you worked so hard to prepare for the next game or match.
But whether you won or lost, you gave it your all.
And when seniors walk off the court or step off the mat for the final time, they should take pride in knowing that no one – including themselves – can ever ask for more than that.
Contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 477-4240.
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The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.