State title is all that matters
No one cares about the regional champions.
No matter how many times a team wins the regional crown, if it comes up empty in the state tournament, then all is lost.
The Greenwave softball team won the regional tournament in 2013 but lost the state championship to Fernley. In the following two seasons, Fallon lost the regional tournament but won the state championship. This year’s wrestling team took third in the regional but came back to in its first-ever state title last weekend.
That state title is all that matters.
Despite losing to Lowry in the Division I-A regional basketball championship, the Lady Wave basketball team qualified for the state tournament the night before and is only two wins away from bringing home the school’s first-ever state title. History, for a change, is on Fallon’s side.
And while the mood was somber at best after the loss on Saturday, senior Megan McCormick, who experienced the same feeling twice with the softball squad, spoke in front of the team.
“After we lost (on Saturday), I got the team together and tried to rally the troops a little bit,” she said. “I said this game is for seeding. We just need to take care of business (on Friday) and face either Faith Lutheran or Lowry on Saturday.”
McCormick’s been in this position before and it showed after Lowry hit a game-winning buzzer beater. Her emotions indicated that while Lowry claimed the regional crown, Fallon was still in position to bring home a bigger and more meaningful trophy.
Her speech resonated with the team.
“We were all pretty down but she told us about her softball experience and the two state championships and that they didn’t win regionals,” junior guard Zoey Swisher said. “She said nothing is lost. We still have a chance to win state. It’s hard losing this late in the season but that did help us because not many of us have postseason experience like Megan. Hearing that from our captain helped and brought our spirits up.”
And if there’s such a thing as a good loss, Saturday’s was it.
Gone is the perfect start to the season that saw Fallon reel off 26-straight wins with only a handful by single digits. But now that the pressure of staying perfect has been removed, Fallon can get back to business and let bygones be bygones.
“Subconsciously, we had this sense that we didn’t want to lose or break the streak,” McCormick said. “Now it’s off and we don’t have to worry about it. We get to play the game like we know how.”
Fallon still enters the tournament as a favorite, despite the loss, and is determined to follow in the wrestling team’s footsteps of bringing home a state title for the first time. And the Lady Wave will be on display an hour away from Fallon.
“Our ultimate goal from the beginning of the season was to win state,” Swisher said. “Even though we lost regionals, our goal is still there. We have the higher seed from the south but that’s OK.”
Fifty years from now, no one will remember a team winning a regional championship. Only the state title matters, and Fallon is a pair of wins away from making that possibility a reality.
Plus, a state patch looks better on the letterman’s jacket, anyway.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.