Photo by Brock Kennedy
Story by J.D. McKay
Christmas break has the best sports action of any break, from high school all the way up to the pros. I was also able to get to a wrestling meet, a swim meet, two boys’ basketball games, and two girls’ basketball games. So I’ll give my take from each sport as well as some college and pro sports.
Swim– Our boys’ and girls swim teams are the best in our area, no question. But things
get much tougher as we get into the Indianapolis area. Both teams dominated Jeff, the second best team in the area the Thursday before break. Then, two days later, we
performed pretty well again but not better than Brownsburg, an Indianapolis school. However, we should dominate sectionals again before scoring a few points and hopefully getting a couple of athletes on the all-state wall.
Wrestling-I am going to start this off by saying I do not know much about wrestling.
However, I went to the New Albany meet because it was Senior Night and to support my football teammate senior Sean Burk. We were much better than New Albany. They did not even have a wrestler for several weight classes, one of which was Burk’s. I could tell that we had some extremely talented wrestlers in senior Jonathan Kervin, junior Gavinn Alstott, and sophomore J Conway. They all three have a chance to win state and should definitely be all-state; that will be back-to-back all-state seasons for Alstott and Kervin. It is also worth noting that Alstott’s win against New Albany was his 100th as a Highlander.
Boys’ basketball– The boys’ are better than people were expecting. In fact, they have
been one of the most underrated teams in the state. They are not as good as Silver Creek, and have a tough matchup against the Dragons in February, but they proved in the game against Bloomington South on Dec. 21 that they can play with some of the best teams in the state. Most people were expecting a 20-point victory for Bloomington South, but after four quarters, the score was tied. Bloomington South eventually won on a buzzer beater. The officials cannot be blamed for the outcome of a game but I really think it is worth mentioning that the officiating was terrible. That game proved that we can play with the best teams. If junior Jake Heidbreder gets rolling, the seniors lead the team through four quarters, and the underclassmen can step-up, we are very dangerous.
Girls’ basketball– I have a very unusual view on the girls’ basketball team because I
practice with them several times a week. They are very young and expectations were not very high for them. But, throughout break, they have improved greatly. They have played pretty well at times. But their main problem is that they do not hit shots for about five minutes and dig themselves a hole. If they could be a little more consistent, they could very easily be .500 on the year. The next three years should be good, though, behind junior Grace Suer, who is injured this season and a major loss, sophomore Keegan Kaiser and freshman Mandy Hess.
Now to pro and college sports. I said the Titans would win in the week leading up to the Patriots Titans game. Then it happened. I think it ended the Patriots dynasty because for the first time in 10 years they will not be in the AFC Championship game, and, unless the Patriots get Rob Gronkowski to unretire or add some significant talent, they will not be back next year. They might not even win their division because the Bills look like a very talented and young team. On another note, the Titans will beat the Ravens this week.
I also decided over Break that Bowl season in the best season. On New Year’s Day, I watched close football games for almost 12 straight hours. If that is not the best day possible, I do not know what is. Anyway, LSU is ridiculous. They thumped Oklahoma in the playoff which I expected. Their QB, Joe Burrow, went off, setting several College Football Playoff records. The second game was closer. Clemson won on a TD late in the fourth quarter and then a pick to seal it with under a minute left in Ohio State’s endzone. The championship is Monday and even though I am rooting for Clemson, I am taking LSU in a closed game.
My other take from college football is that the SEC is the best conference. The SEC was 7-2 in bowl games and 7 SEC teams on LSU’s schedule played LSU closer than the best team in the Big 12, Oklahoma. It would not be a tough to argue looking back that Florida, Georgia, and maybe even Alabama should have been in over Oklahoma. I would go as far to say that a two loss SEC team should be in over a 1 loss team from any of the other Power 5 conferences.
My biggest take from break is that officiating is becoming a huge issue. Several of the meaningful close games over break had a significant seemingly bad call as a talking point following it. Again, the Saints got the short end of the stick with playoff officiating, which should be talked for a while this off season. The biggest game that officiating was talked about was the Ohio State-Clemson game. I believe both questionable calls were correct, but in a game that close any calls that could be debated will be viewed as wrong by the losing team’s fans. I also say that you cannot blame a loss on the officials, which is true for the Ohio State game as well.
My final take is on the NFL overtime rule. It is ridiculous. No other sport do you see a team score and their opponent not get a chance to match, except for some reason, the NFL. Both teams should get the ball at least once. The Saints lost in overtime because the Vikings won the coin toss and scored to start the extra period. I do not get why the NFL would want it’s most popular and best players to never see the field and lose. I have been saying this since Super Bowl LI in 2017, where the Patriots Tom Brady scored to start overtime without the Falcons Matt Ryan ever seeing the field in overtime.