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Talking Sports By
Bruce Morgan March Madness?
How ’bout some February Madness.
Certainly, it hasn’t been easy for either the Warwick boys or the Manheim Central boys this winter, but all indications are that both will be in the District Three playoff field.
Having a healthy Tyler Morris for the entire season would have made a big difference for the Warriors, who entered Tuesday’s regular-season finale ranked 15th in the District Three Quad-A power ratings. That was obvious in the team’s record when he returned from a pre-season injury, helping them go 7-3 over a four-week span in January to help get them back in the playoff mix following a 3-7 start. But then in cruel twist of fate, Morris suffered another injury in a tough overtime loss to Cedar Crest. The defeat basically knocked them out of the L-L League playoff picture in Section One and left them turning their focus to just claiming one of the top 20 spots in Districts. They did so, again, without one of their best players.
To coach Jeff Landis’ credit, though, he isn’t one to make excuses and the Warriors had a winnable game against Manheim Township on Tuesday night. With a victory, perhaps they would have hosted a District play-in game next Friday, Jan. 15. Despite not playing one of their better games, they led for most of the two middle stanzas, only to let it slip away in the fourth quarter.
They will no doubt be kicking themselves a little bit for that loss. Although 16th-ranked Dallastown and 18th-ranked Red Lion also lost — to South Western and York, respectively, in other Tuesday night games — the Warriors will have to wait to see where they end up when the dust settles. But it’s not out of the question that they could be boarding a bus for a District play-in contest, and that’s never an easy road in the playoffs.
Just a few miles up the road, Manheim Central hosted Garden Spot in its third game in five days Tuesday night. But if the Barons were tired, they didn’t show it in a 57-45 win over the Spartans to officially wrap up a berth in the District Three Triple-A playoff field, in which the top 18 teams advance.
Before they took the floor last Friday, the Barons had lost three in a row and certainly didn’t have anything locked up from a post-season standpoint. In fact, they were still ranked only 17th heading into Tuesday’s action against Garden Spot.
But kudos to seniors Jacoby Brumbach, Mark Cassel, Colby Gatchell, Zach Schnitzler and Evan Stauffer. Coach Chris Sherwood, who believes his team will get the 16th ranking and a home play-in game, couldn’t say enough about their leadership on Tuesday night.
And kudos to Chris for helping to keep the team together following the tragedy from a couple years ago when star DeVaughn Lee was lost.
The Central boys now find themselves as a 14-win team and headed back to the playoffs.
I have great respect for both Landis and Sherwood, and Chris, in the past couple of days, has talked to me more than once about the current power rating system. On Tuesday night, after his team had clinched a berth in the District playoffs, he noted that Susquehannock was a 14-win team that was probably going to be on the outside looking in when the dust finally settled.
"I can’t help but feel bad for a team that’s left out who has 14 wins," Sherwood said. "And Susquehannock is probably going to be left out. The system is broken and you can quote that. That’s a good 14-win team that’s being left out."
Let’s suppose that Manheim Central had lost to Garden Spot on Tuesday night and not made the playoffs. That would have meant the Barons were a 13-win team not advancing to the post-season. They would have been the good team that wasn’t moving on, and if Chris had expressed his feelings then, maybe some would have seen it as sour grapes.
But his Barons are, in fact, moving on and he’s not afraid to speak up for the teams that aren’t. That says a lot. In a way, I guess it’s similar to that Sunday in March when the NCAA Division-I One Tournament brackets are released and good teams find out that they have gotten the snub.
Certainly, the District power ratings and the current system of determining who advances and who doesn’t makes for a great debate. I honestly don’t know what the answers are.
I’m just glad that February Madness will continue a little bit longer. More MADNESS, page B-6