Currently viewing the tag: "high school basketball"

with Michael Betteridge

March is always depicted as such an angry month. After all, March is actually named after the god of war: Mars. This came from the Roman calendar, and modern historians know that because their military campaigns began in March. The original pre-Julian calendar didn’t even bother to name the winter months. They were treated as throwaways. At the conclusion of the unnamed months, a named month was needed to reflect the transition from winter to preparing to go to war. March was originally the first month of the year. 

Modern society follows the spirit of the ancient traditions. We have March Madness and references to March being a “Lion” and “mad as a March Hare” and “beware the Ides of March.” It is even tempting to look at the actual meaning of the word for this month as a command to action…March! The central theme being: March madness is really a part of human DNA.

Has March gotten a bad rap? I don’t think so. It can snow 10 inches in one week, and then be sunny and in the 60s the next week. That happened just five years ago. On March 8, 2019, the daytime high was 37 degrees and it was snowing. On March 11, the daytime high was 61 and it was sunny.  March can bring raging wind, sleet, and ice, as well as warm sunshine, budding flowers, and birds chirping, all in the same month, even days apart.

We mark March as a time of transition: “In like a lion and out like a lamb.” We transition our clocks to daylight savings time in March.  March symbolizes the shedding of old habits and a path for new beginnings.  Just as the Earth shakes off the shackles of winter madness, we are encouraged to embrace the sanity of spring.

Sports have always been a great metaphor for life. Who would ever come up with the term: “May Madness”? It just doesn’t work. 

The term “March Madness” is not new. It is 85 years old. The term originated in 1939, when high school teacher Henry Porter referred in a sports column to an eight-game high school playoff basketball tournament by saying the following: “A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.” That’s right! March Madness started in high school basketball! It wasn’t until 1982 that famed CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger claimed he borrowed the term from an automobile commercial while broadcasting a high school basketball game.

Musburger brought the term over to college ball when he went to work for CBS, and it stuck. Can you imagine Brent Musburger sitting in the Catoctin gym, broadcasting Cougars basketball on WTHU? Well, that’s where Musburger got his start, in a high school gym in Illinois.  Who knows? Maybe you could be watching the next Musburger at Catoctin 10 to 20 years from now. For certain, not yours truly, but have you listened to our newest WTHU sports announcer Ryan Piers? He is “future star” good!

March Madness is now everywhere, especially here in our area. The governing state body for high school athletics, the MPSSAA, expanded girls’ and boys’ high school basketball to include all schools, big and small, regardless of their season record. They created an “NCAA” bracket of schools in the 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A divisions. That means 388 boys’ and girls’ high school basketball teams will compete in our own March Madness, which will end with 16 teams playing at the Xfinity Center on the campus of the University of Maryland on March 15 and 16 for a state championship!

For your own little bracket pool, let me help you with a little advance forecast of who to watch in the tournament. In the 4A Boys, Frederick, Urbana, and TJ are at the top. In the Girls 4A, the Frederick lady Cadets are back! In the Girls 3A, Oakdale and Linganore are the teams to watch. The Boys 3A are struggling with Oakdale right around .500. The 2A Boys team to watch is the Walkersville Lions. Coach Mathis has them primed and ready to make another run to College Park. Don’t forget about the Middletown boys and their incredible undefeated run through midseason. Speaking of Middletown, watch out for the Lady Knights in the tournament and keep an eye on Williamsport. They love to play the spoiler. Coach Murphy always surprises.

And, now, our own bracket of madness: the 1A Boys and Girls Basketball tournament is always a nail-biter.

Once again, Coach Amy has our Lady Cougars poised at the top. This will not be an easy postseason for the Lady Cougars, who will almost certainly have to work their way through Smithsburg, Mountainridge, and Southern to make it back to College Park.

The boys have it easy.  No pressure. They are sitting toward the bottom of their bracket, and any postseason victories the team and Coach Zach can secure will be a win for the program. They are much improved this year.

No matter what your opinions on March, there is always one thing you can count on: madness. And, don’t forget, the softball and baseball seasons begin in March. I hope I have convinced you. March deserves every depiction it receives, good and bad. 

Hang in there. It’s all about the ride.