Playoffs are different.
Teams have a preseason, where they work to get better, a regular season, where they look to prove their ability. If they prove it enough, they have the postseason, where it all is supposed to pay off.
They can be electric in their excitement. And they can be tragically brief.
The Central Valley boys found that out Monday, when they lost to University in the Class 4A district play-in game.
CV won two regular season battles with its rivals. The Bears won 68-66 in December and took a 63-60 decision in the Stinky Sneaker game at the Arena.
Monday’s game followed the same form through regulation, where neither team could build and sustain a lead.
The Titans led for much of the game this time. They had a five-point lead at the half and a three-point advantage after three quarters.
CV tied the game at 51-51 with 1:41 left in regulation and neither team could score again, sending the game into overtime.
U-Hi owned the game in the extra five-minute period.
Tanner Christensen, the Titans 6-foot-10 post, who is already committed to play college basketball at Idaho, scored to tie the game at 53-53, then turned a three-point play after leading the fast break following a U-Hi steal in the CV backcourt to make it 56-53. Two more free throws made it 58-55.
With 1:05 left, Christensen turned a second three-point play to give U-Hi a six-point lead, 63-57.
When the dust settled, the Titans had a 71-59 win and the right to travel to Richland for a loser-out district playoff game against Richland on Wednesday.
The CV girls return to the playoffs with loftier goals. After a third consecutive undefeated regular season, the Bears are the consensus pick to win the Class 4A state title for the second time in three years.
After they beat University in the Stinky Sneaker game, coach Freddie Rehkow pointed out that his team was 70-1 over the past three years – 74-1 heading into a Wednesday’s battle with Pasco.
And the thing that eats at the team out of all those games? That one loss.
It’s what makes the team that much more determined this season.
East Valley’s girls have the week off. After winning the Great Northern League regular season title, the Knights are seeded directly into district title game Tuesday.
Wrestling heads into what a number of coaches call “the toughest weekend of the season.”
It makes sense that the weekend before Mat Classic would be the most stressful tournament a wrestler faces in any given season.
You’re heading into the home stretch of the season. You can see the finish line looming ahead of you – the medal stand in the Tacoma Dome.
You just have to get there. Make a mistake there and you can find yourself sitting at home on the final weekend of the season instead of battling for a state title.
Knowing that the margin for error is so narrow is what makes it tough.
University takes a strong group into the regional tournament this weekend.
Tim Westbrook beat U-Hi teammate Dan Guzman for the 113-pound district title.
Terrell Sanders is the district champ at 126 and Kyler Anstrom at 132.
The Titans have three district champs in the upper weights as well: Hunter Gregerson at 195, Caleb Thomas, who beat CV’s John Keiser for the title at 220, and Neftali Lopez at 285.
Central Valley’s contingent to regionals will be led by district champ Bradley Wiggs, who place first at 145,
East Valley won the 2A district title as a team and sends a strong group to regionals led by Avery Sundheim, who beat teammate Noah McDermott in the title match at 120 pounds. Jacob Kessinger won the 132-pound title and Winston Scott beat West Valley’s Tanner Cassell for the 195-pound championship.
West Valley sends two district championships on to the regional: Gaje Caro at 152 and Logan Reser, who beat EV’s Landon Hofstee at 220.
Freeman sends three district 1A champions forward as well: Hunter Nees at 120, Logan Holt at 138 and Garrett Trevino at 220.