Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An underdog becomes a champion

Green Tech is a school that has only been around for a few years in my home district. On Monday night, their boys' basketball team made history.

Playing in the Section II Class AA title game for the 2nd straight year, the Eagles of Green Tech defeated Guilderland of the Suburban Council to win the championship, a year after falling short against Troy High (Big 10). Going into the game, I sensed there was some sort of pattern forming.

In 2012, Troy was beaten in overtime by Christian Brothers Academy, but OT should never have happened. The pro-Troy supporters will tell you the officials gave the game to CBA beginning in the 2nd quarter that night, and some will argue that since a former CBA alumnus was retiring from his post with Section II, the fix was in. However, there is no proof of any foul play. The game was officiated the same way certain college and pro games are, especially in the post-season. Politics, to be sure, got in the way of a good game.

Last year, Green Tech took a giant step forward, upsetting CBA en route to the title game. Troy High said, "thank you very much", and beat a game Eagles squad. It stood to reason, then, that if Green Tech made the title game again this year, they could win it all, and be the first independent team playing in that high a classification to win a sectional title. Albany Academy, formerly of the Colonial Council, now plays as an independent, and I'm trying to remember if they've already won a sectional title since going independent.

In effect, Guilderland represented Section II's "establishment", taking on an upstart program only in its 4th varsity season. Bear in mind that only one pro sports expansion team has won a title in just its 4th season, and that was the Arizona Diamondbacks in baseball (2001). It took the then-Florida Marlins 5 seasons to win their first title, and the Mets had to wait 8 seasons before their first title.

Now, the question is, can Green Tech repeat? They will lose 4 players to graduation, including the coach's son. Considering that over the same length of time, the school's football team has experienced the usual growing pains, that first championship will serve as an incentive for next season in all sports.

To paraphrase John Mellencamp, Green Tech fought the authority, and won. And that's the best ending of them all.

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