When news began to filter in after the boys basketball game on Thursday, I couldn’t believe my ears. I actually had to go into the CIAC website to see if the claims were really true.
A 104-30 loss to Windsor might be the most lopsided loss suffered by any Southington High School team in the history of Southington High School teams. It must have been so quiet that you could have heard the ECHO of a pin drop on the bus ride home after the game.
But I’m not pointing that out to ridicule the Blue Knight basketball players. In fact, that wasn’t my reaction at all when I first heard the news. I have come to the conclusion that this year’s varsity basketball players are the toughest the high school has ever produced.
They are certainly tougher than any football player, any softball player, or any other varsity athlete that will compete at the high school this year.
After all, if Windsor had beaten Southington, 104-30, on the football field, the Windsor coach would have been suspended by the CIAC. In football, where scores are counted by sevens and threes, CIAC officials felt that it would be too devastating to lose by 50-points—forget about losing by 66. The CIAC even made a rule to protect against it and instituted a running clock to speed up the finish of a lopsided contest. How can a football player claim to be tougher than a Blue Knight basketball player?
Even softball and swimming have mercy rules and escape clauses for times when games get too out of control, so basketball players can certainly claim to be tougher.
In basketball, where it takes three or four scores to equal a single touchdown, there is no mercy rule. Even though a team has to out-score an opponent by as many as 25 baskets (or 50 free throws) to approach a 50-point deficit, there is no rule at all. That’s where the toughness comes in.
I am impressed with any athlete that would continue to try, continue to score, continue to defend—in front of an audience of fans on the road—when there was obviously no chance to win the game. If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t think I would have made it to the final whistle. But the Blue Knights continued to the bitter end.
I’m curious how many varsity-level athletes took the winter off but still find time to compete in the town’s basketball league? I wonder how many varsity-level basketball players chose to sit out the season to compete in the town league—with no pressure—instead of supporting their classmates on the big stage?
If there are any, they should be hanging their heads in shame. So should any fan that is willing to flock to a town game but can’t support the varsity team because of their record. Fair-weather fans aren’t impressive.
For those boys that chose to stay with the team, chose to practice, and chose to compete, they have my complete respect. It is much tougher to show up for daily practice when your team is winless than when you’re a championship contender.
This winter season has already been a true test of character and grit. It’s already been chock full of life lessons that can’t be learned anywhere else. I am not as impressed with a team’s ability to win as I am for their ability to persevere through adversity. That’s why these guys win the “Toughest” title for this school year.
Of course, the season isn’t over. Who knows how this hard-learned lesson will affect the final outcome? People were ready to count out the Knights last winter when they were 0-7 and when they were 1-9, but the team wasn’t eliminated from the tournament until the final second of the final regular season game.
In my opinion, the entire boys basketball team—the freshmen, the junior varsity squad, and varsity team—are this week’s athletes of the week.
That was my reaction when the news began to filter in.