By Indrek Kongats

If you are a basketball player, parent of a player or just a loyal fan, this time of year is what it’s all about, to determine who is the best of the best. How do you stack up as a team and as a player to the rest of the state? There are no do-overs, no second chances— it’s just do or die time, go home or go on.

They don’t call it “On the Road to the Final Four” for no reason. Every game is a road game, no home court advantage, just long bus rides to the game and even longer on the way home if you lose.

Ellicottville and Springville basketball fans have a chance to live as their local high school teams have secured playoff spots in the Section 6 Championships and begin their march into March.

Ellicottville is in the Class D, while Springville is in the Class B sectionals. Classes are determined by administrators based on the theory of school sizes, the idea that a larger school has a larger pool of talented athletes to draw from, so they must have a stronger and deeper team.

Teams from larger schools should easily beat small school teams—too bad this fact can never be tested! Class D is the smallest of the small; Class AA is the biggest and supposedly has the highest caliber of basketball in the state in the public school system. There is also the Catholic school system that has their own separate playoffs and the two will never be partners at the State Finals, so who really is the best?

But hey— it’s just a game anyway, right? Everyone that competes is a winner, right? No politics, no regional pride, no religion enter into it; we are all just one homogenized bunch that wants everyone who competes to compete with pride and dignity and winning isn’t everything, right? RIGHT!

The definition of a winner is someone that has ice in their veins, that can smile and shake hands, say “please” and “thank you,” but when it comes time to compete, it’s the person that will rip your heart out and watch you bleed but afterwards stuff it back in, a little broken, with a “great game” and a hand shake to make the pain a little less painful. A real winner will offer a hug, a pat on the back and above all, respect.

But isn’t the real winner the loser? The one that can live with the fact that they lost and has accepted the fact that life must go on is really the stronger of the two! That’s the majority of us! There is after all only one winner and a trail of losers left in their dust. Does the winner understand pain and suffering as well as the loser, shouldn’t everyone one strive to be a loser so that they can experience defeat, the struggle to restore their self confidence and self worth, picking oneself up and continuing on, who in the end will be the stronger person. Aren’t we all winners whether we win or lose?

As a competitor, when you drive to that game thinking good thoughts, don’t be afraid to lose, don’t expect to win. Regardless of the outcome, know down deep that you competed as best as you can. As a fan or a parent, have respect for your competitor; after all, they are there for the same reason— not to gain world dominance, but just to represent themselves and all their hopefuls as best as they can. Have class.

The Class sectionals are as follows as taken from the Section 6 website,