Editorial: A magical night
You could evaluate statistics, compare records and examine rosters. You can imagine an outcome based on those factors, but always, always, there remain the intangibles, the elements you cannot quantify or see.
It’s why they play the games. And it’s why Appalachian State can defeat Michigan in football, or Hickory can win the mythical Indiana title in “Hoosiers” (based loosely on a true story, by the way), or David can sling a rock to hit in just the right place to slay Goliath. Add the intangibles and throw in the fact the participants are teenagers, and it becomes an athletic box of chocolates.
Those who wrote off the Sevier County High School basketball team heading into Tuesday’s game against Dobyns-Bennett had logic on their side. When you lose a player like Devin Schmidt and his 20-plus points a game (30 or so in the last few games), you seem sunk. Schmidt was off the team because of his arrest Saturday night. It came just as the Smoky Bears were advancing in the playoffs, on the verge of their greatest season ever.
Having to drive to Johnson City to play a team located 15 miles away from the game site was another potential handicap. Again, don’t forget the intangibles, the X factor. In the gymnasium at Daniel Boone High School Tuesday night, the Bear fans outnumbered and out-noised the D-B fans. The players closed ranks. Emotion and skill won out. And Sevier County did it. The Smoky Bears defeated D-B and moved on in the playoffs.
Not long ago John Calipari, the coach of Kentucky, complained he had players who were not coachable. That seems more his problem than his players’, because everyone on a team wants to win and is willing to do what they have to do to try and win. SCHS Coach Ken Wight said all the right things prior to Tuesday’s game and in team meetings, but he didn’t sink a basket or make a free throw. He could inspire his guys, but he couldn’t play for them.
This was simply a magical night. The stars aligned. The Bears’ basket seemed a little wider. Whatever happened, skill prevailed and led the Bears to a victory and a chance to keep playing for a spot in the state tournament. Players stepped up. Guys came through. Those cruel chants from the D-B side soon faded away, replaced by sadness and disbelief as their fans made it to their waiting cars. One can only imagine what the drive back to Sevierville was like for the winning side.
Can this euphoria, this emotion, continue? Does it matter? For one glorious, special night a hundred miles from home, it happened. The good guys won. They play tonight in Johnson City against Science Hill, which has lost just twice this season. Looks like we’ve got ’em just where we want ’em.