Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Dream is Alive

Last year, we had a bonafide champion in Rensselaer County. The Averill Park girls basketball team won not only the state championship in Class A, but also the federation championship, which pits the public school champion against the very best from New York City. That made them the best of the best throughout the entire state.

That team had practically all of its best players leave at the end of the year. After starting off this season with a mediocre 7-7 record, they lost their last four games of the season and limped into the sectional tournament as a relatively low seed, an afterthought.

Then they won a game. And another, this time against an undefeated team considered one of the best in the state. They won another to claim an improbable sectional championship. Then they won again to kick off the state tournament. They were told they were in over their heads against a second undefeated team, but they managed to win that one too at the very end to reach the state semifinals. That followed on with another juggernaut they were supposed to lose to, and they won that game on a last-second shot at the buzzer to find themselves in a place no one, not even themselves, most likely, expected them to be just three weeks prior: defending their state championship.

"We just got tired of losing," more than one of the team's players said. "We wanted to prove everyone wrong."

It didn't matter how their season ended. They got their chance in a single-elimination tournament, and they made it count. Repeatedly. All it took was a team effort and a refusal to lose, even when no one thought they had a prayer.

"Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." - Henry Ford

16 years.

That's a long time to wait for another chance. The last three weeks, of course, have been agonizing as well. But the waiting is over.

As long as there is time left on the clock, the dream is alive.

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