BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - This past weekend, 10 teams from Section IV clinched their spot in the New York state basketball tournaments.
Unable to be at every game, I'd like to first congratulate Seton Catholic Central, Watkins Glen, and South Kortright on the girl's side, and Unadilla Valley and Marathon for the boy's.
As for the games I did attend, they were packed with high quality play.
So for that, the Section IV basketball champions are all my Athletes of the Week.
In the world of sports, few things can top the feeling once the final buzzer goes off, and you can celebrate a championship with your teammates.
It's the culmination of everything you've worked for all season long.
And when all that hard work pays off with a championship, it's a feeling unlike any other.
After the Seton Catholic Central girl's team captured the Class A title inside the Floyd L. Maines Arena Saturday, the Johnson City boy's team knocked off the reigning Class A champs Maine-Endwell 68-56.
Keith Harris scored 27 points in the win, and believes their run is far from over.
"We're looking to go to the Final Four. Practice hard this whole week. But, whatever team we end up playing, they're going to get the same treatment. So, yeah," Harris said.
After winning a Section IV championship for the second time in three years, JC head coach Bill Spalik's message to his team heading into states is to properly represent not only themselves, but the entire area.
"Represent our section is what we'll preach now. We want to make sure that we do a great job of playing hard, and making sure we're prepared to go and play great basketball for not only ourselves, but for Section IV," says Spalik.
A great deal of pride comes with being able to represent your section in the state tournament, a feeling the Norwich girl's basketball team experienced after beating Owego to win the Class B title.
That pride beamed from their head coach Josh Bennett afterwards.
"I mean, honestly, it doesn't really feel real. Still trying to figure it out. But, I'm very happy, very proud of my kids, obviously. They put a lot of time and effort into this. So, I'm very proud of that. Very proud of them," he says.
The day was completed with yet another section title game rematch from a year ago.
This time, Owego flipped the script on Seton Catholic Central, with the Indians taking home the Class B championship.
Owego's Kobe Bogart put on a memorable performance, scoring 15 points in the 1st quarter en route to a 34 point night.
Owego head coach Chris Evans was very impressed with Bogart's performance, as well as how others stepped up in big situations.
"Just a stud. He had the tip-in there toward the end. He hung tough. I thought he was getting held a lot away from the ball. But, he didn't complain, he stayed with it, he stayed with it. Then, Sage fouled out and the kids hung tough. Nate Bennett came off the bench and gave us great minutes, and that usually doesn't happen. The kids, they hung tough and we grinded out a win," Evans said.
At the end of the day, that's all you can ask of your team.
Hang tough, work hard, and grind it out.
That's what all these teams did.
And their reward?
A chance to compete for a state championship.
Congratulations once again to all the champions of Section IV.
State tournament play begins this week.