And just like that, it’s all over.
What a year it was for West Tennessee basketball teams.
McKenzie and Martin-Westview captured state championships in girls’ Class A and AA divisions, respectively. McKenzie brought home its first gold ball, while the Lady Chargers made room for a second.
Dresden and Gleason each reached the girls’ Class A semifinals, milestones for both schools. Dresden had never been past the quarterfinals before. Gleason, historically, either lost in the first round or advanced to the finals, where it won three gold balls and one silver. This was the first time Gleason made a semifinal exit.
Gibson County, girls’ champs in 2018, reached the quarters this year.
McKenzie and West Carroll proved they belonged in the boys’ Class A draw.
How about Jackson-South Side, qualifying for the 3A finals in both boys’ and girls’ draws.
Milan and Trenton were finalists in the boys’ state tournament. Milan brought home the 2A silver ball, the Tide the Class A runner-up trophy.
Often, other parts of the state look down their noses at West Tennessee basketball. Not this year. I may be wrong, but I think this may have been one of the best finishes for West Tennessee since 1996 when Bradford, Westview and Jackson-Central-Merry all brought home state crowns.
You never know how things will turn out once you tread the boards of the Murphy Center. I’ve seen the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat more times than I care to remember.
I never forget how loud the silence is on the losing end of the gym is when that final horn blares. It’s never easy to see tearful seniors’ careers end, whether as winners or not so fortunate.
I always enjoy the relationships I develop with coaches, players and other media representatives while there. Developing those contacts and sharing war stories with colleagues makes it all worthwhile.
Now it’s time to head outdoors and see if we can do it all again this May.
Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs 4-6 p.m CT, Monday-Thursday on WRJB, 95.9 FM, Camden, Tenn.