Friday, March 2, 2012

Madison loses game, wins so much more

Even in a loss, it is possible to win.

The Madison Blue Streaks proved that Thursday night with the way they handled themselves from start to finish in an impossible situation amid the aftermath of an unthinkable tragedy.

Madison coach Pat Moran referred to his team as Darth Vader walking into Thursday's sectional semifinal against Chardon in the Division I Euclid District.

After the horrific events that unfolded Monday morning at Chardon High School in which a gunman killed three students and wounded two others, there was no way anyone could look at the Blue Streaks as anything but the villain.

That was far from the case.

Years from now, Madison won't be looked at as the bad guys from March 1, 2012, who tried to keep Chardon from advancing in the postseason. The Blue Streaks and their coach should be viewed as the classy opposition and willing partner in a scene never imagined in any circumstance.

From the pregame til the final buzzer and into the postgame press conference, it would be hard to imagine Madison doing any more for Chardon and the community than the Blue Streaks did Thursday.

Madison lost, 78-59, but the Blue Streaks should have won respect for the way they carried themselves and respected the Hilltoppers and competed. That sounds easy, especially in defeat, but put yourself in the shoes of a 17- or 18-year old and it isn't so simple.

They wore Chardon warm-up shirts. They shook hands, they felt something, they may have cried privately or prayed on their own. They stood side by side for the national anthem. They respected the game by competing and not laying down or rolling over.

Can't ask for much more from Coach Moran or his players.

Madison has set the bar pretty high for Brush on Saturday night. Win or lose, the Arcs have a tough act to follow.

Nobody hated the Blue Streaks on Thursday even if there weren't a lot of cheers for them. It wasn't Darth Vader in the gym at Euclid, just the opponent for Chardon just days removed from a tragedy nobody coudl have seen coming or planned for.

Here's hoping when history looks back at the Chardon-Madison game and all the emotion that went into this unpredictable sectional semifinal, the Blue Streaks will credit for their role in the evening.

The attention is rightly fixated on the Hilltoppers, but Madison certainly showed class and professionalism - starting with its head coach - from beginning to end.

God bless the victims and the families at Chardon and hopefully the healing process has begun. But hopefully, the Hilltoppers realize how much the Blue Streaks also brought to an impossible difficult scene.

Madison didn't win the game, but the victories for the Blue Streaks came in areas on Thursday that are much more important in the big picture that go beyond basketball.

- Bill Tilton/


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