Maybe I underestimated the value of an annual bracket challenge. Check that, I definitely did.
In what I considered to be an inconsequential move, I opted not to host this newspaper’s annual contest centered around the NCAA Tournament and didn’t think much of it. I ran out of time to prepare and didn’t see the value in the time I spent trying to score the dozens of entries for the next month.
I messed up.
I’ve heard the disappointment from many of you about the cutback, and I’m sorry. There’s no records to show how long this contest had been in existence but some made claims of decades, and now here I am as the guy who broke tradition.
Not a good feeling to let you the reader down.
So here’s my promise: I will pay attention to the calendar and do a better job of informing you about the contest next year. We will bring it back and will try to make it bigger and better.
I’m hoping to again work with local businesses on sponsorships and providing prizes for the top finishers beyond the invaluable subscription to The Platte County Citizen that those who can beat me would receive. I do have to say that this might’ve been the year to pass on giving away the subscriptions. My bracket is busted — bad — although I’m sure many of you feel the same way.
Speaking of March Madness, did any of you catch Wichita State’s second round game against Kentucky on Sunday?
Wichita State — a No. 10 seed — again impressed and made a case on the court for being underseeded. The star of the game for the underdog Shockers seemed to be redshirt freshman Landry Shamet, at least according to the Turner Sports broadcast team.
The announcers heaped praise on the unorthodox and versatile 6-foot-4 point guard, the same player we watched develop into a star at Park Hill High School.
Shamet won the Missouri Valley Conference’s freshman of the year award for his redshirt freshman season. The highest rated recruit of successful coach Gregg Marshall’s tenure, Shamet averaged 11.4 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds a year after a stress fracture limited him to just three games played.
In the 65-62 loss to Kentucky, Shamet scored a team-high 20 points to go with two assists despite foul trouble. He also had the ball with time ticking away, and the Wildcats blocked his desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer that would’ve tied the score and forced overtime.
While Park Hill didn’t receive a mention, I did enjoy hearing all the talk about Shamet like he was a virtual unknown.
In some ways, I guess they were right. Shamet blossomed in his junior and senior seasons to become a coveted recruit before ending up with Wichita State. Marshall remains the subject of constant rumors with larger schools, but if he remains with the Shockers, Shamet’s future should be bright.
One final basketball note this week.
Yes, we have turned the page to spring sports, starting with last week’s season preview for all area high school teams and continuing with the first game action over the weekend and on Monday. The Missouri State Basketball Championships also wrapped up over the weekend with the crowning of the Class 4 and Class 5 state champions.
Lee’s Summit West’s boys, who beat Park Hill twice, finished as Class 5 runner-up, while Kearney’s boys, who beat Platte County four times, won third place. St. Pius X’s girls, who beat Platte County to end the Pirates’ season in Class 4 District 15, went on to finish as runner-up, too.
Most notably, Park Hill’s girls — players and coaches — might have paid a lot of attention to the Class 5 final.
Kirkwood defeated Lee’s Summit in the championship game. Park Hill went 3-1 against those teams this year, twice beating Lee’s Summit in Suburban Conference Gold Division play before losing a third matchup in the Class 5 quarterfinals.
Lee’s Summit went on to make a surprise run to the state finals before losing to Kirkwood (28-3), a record that includes a blowout loss to Park Hill earlier in the season.
March Madness, indeed. Park Hill (21-7) had a great season that ended up one win shy of the second top-four state trophy in school history, but the results of the tournament show exactly how special the Trojans were this season.
I’m sure that’s little consolation at this point, but I know I took note.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.