The ebb and flow of a season

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Like many of you, I was a bit puzzled by Tennessee’s loss to Florida last week, especially after ascending to the No. 2 spot in the country, according to the wire-service polls.

Florida is trying to rebuild, Tennessee, presumably, has a solid foundation.

Later last week, McKenzie’s defending state-champion girls were blowtorched by Houston County in a District 11A game.

The knee-jerk urge is very strong when you scratch your head after puzzling lossses, but we have to understand the ebb and flow of a season, be it football, basketball, baseball, or, given the weather we had last week, curling.

Ah, sports psychology. If we only could bottle and break it open when we needed it. How many times have you folks, whether competing in high school, college, on the sandlot, on a friend’s basketball goal in someone’s driveway, seemingly had a day where everything just went right? You had that Midas touch. It doesn’t even have to be on the athletic field or court. It could be in the workplace.

Case in point: I remember going into my office one day (this happened every so often) and typing my stories. I was whizzing away at 120 words a minute, it seemed, and doing so without too many mistakes, if any at all. The next day, you would have thought I had developed Hamburger Helper hands. Is it diet? Is it sleep? Is it too many adult beverages (not that I’d know what that’s like)?

I suspect that will go down as one of life’s great mysteries.

Can we chalk up the Tennessee loss to just having a bad night? The good thing about it is that this loss occurred in early February, not in early March. This will give Tennessee and opportunity to learn and grow from this setback. Sure, Tennessee struggled offensively against Auburn this past weekend, but rode the back of Jordan Josiah James’ double-double (14 points, 10 boards) and Santiago Vescovi’s four-point play near the end. Somehow, they got it done and won 46-43, especially after going 2-21 from the three-point line.

Meanwhile, last Friday night, with McKenzie at Houston County, it’s not like the Lady Fighting Irish had a lousy team. They’ve been in and out of the state rankings all year. Besides, McKenzie, as defending state champ, has had a target on its back every time it takes the floor.

Houston County wanted to make a statement and had one of those Midas nights. It hit 10 three pointers on a night where a lid seemingly covered the McKenzie hoop. Houston County just had a fantastic night and wanted to make a statement.

Again, the good news for McKenzie is that this was a regular-season game. This team has enough components to make another run, but just ran into a team that did everything right. Yes, the knee-jerk reaction is hard to resist, as is the want to throw hands up in the air. Be patient. It’s part of the process. Besides, this is a McKenzie team on the mend and trying to regain chemistry.

Someone once told me that the cream rises to the top…but so does the grease. We’ll see which contenders and which imposters make the ascent as tournament time approaches.

Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs 4-6 p.m. CT, Monday-Thursday on 95.9 FM, WRJB radio, in Camden.

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