Let me start off this column by saying that winning isn’t bad. Like, at all.
I will also say, just for those haters, that this isn’t bagging on any team. There are some really good basketball teams this season that are getting the respect they deserve for historic runs through the first couple of months of the 2021-22 season.
But here is a harsh reality: if you are good and I mean really good, you probably don’t get the attention that you deserve, you know that standard measurement of relevancy. If you look around, you’d probably think that the standard this season are the current undefeated runs of Columbia City girls and Eastside boys. And kudos to both of those teams and their coaches because they deserve the attention for the amazing things they have going.
But what if I told you that those aren’t the best teams in the area? I mean, if you follow me or local high school basketball enough, you probably already know that. But the teams that are among the best, that have just as good of or better storylines, they really don’t get as much attention. Why? Because we expect that of them. Eastside and Columbia City, as my examples, have been good in previous seasons but they haven’t been great, an area they are working on right now.
Teams that have been great, that are almost always great, they actually take a bit of a backseat.
That thought came to my mind this week when talking about Central Noble. The Cougars are in the midst of a historic run of their own. They sit 11-0 today, which is the best start in program history; the previous mark was 8-0 set in the 1997-98 season when Paul Baker was the coach and nobody on the current team was alive. So if Central Noble is 11-0 and Eastside is 11-0 and they are both in their best start ever, then where is the balance? It is gone because the Cougars are expected powerhouses. They are 35-2 dating back to the start of the 2020-21 season and if you add another year back on that, they are 57-7. So the expectation is that Central Noble wins; and there isn’t enough attention when they do.
The Cougar program lost of those their best players ever to graduation last spring and still have bounced back with this historic feat. If is fair to say too that the Cougars are the favorites in their remaining regular season games, the NECC Tournament and their Sectional. They do it all with a heavy Mr. Basketball candidate in Connor Essegian, who will play high level Division I basketball next season.
But with heavy success comes a bit of disregarding. And Central Noble deserves far more than to be disregarded just because they are almost always good; that type of success is so hard to maintain and coach John Bodey’s crew is doing it.
This too happens on the girls side. Homestead is considered one of, if not the best, girls basketball team in the state. They just went to Indianapolis and beat a really good North Central team WITHOUT Ayanna Patterson in the lineup. And while she, of course, gets attention for her run at Miss Basketball, Bounce doesn’t think enough credit goes to the likes to Ali Stephens and Molly Stock, who have both shown significant growth and improvement this season and that game is a great example.
It is an unfortunate side effect of being so successful. But what we should all do is make sure we focus on the long term success stories like Central Noble or Blackhawk Christian boys or the Homestead girls. Turning a program up to a new level like we’ve seen with Ed Bentley’s Eastside or Amy Shearer’s Columbia City is not easy. Sustaining long term success like John Bodey, Marc Davidson or Rod Parker have done with their programs should always have a wow factor too.
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