PORTAGE | Mike Megyese spoke directly with some passion on Jan. 25, a few minutes after his Michigan City Wolves had snapped Merrillville's 39-game regular season winning streak with a 60-57 win.
With the IHSAA girls basketball draw just two days away, Megyese hoped vainly that one day Hoosier Hysteria would no longer have a blind draw.
The blind draw is Stevie Wonder driving a cab. In New York City.
Indiana, though, loves tradition. In the 38 years of girls basketball and the 103 years of boys hoops the IHSAA's state tournament has been set up by the blind draw.
I am a traditional kind of dude. I love John Wayne. And the Flintstones.
But not every tradition is good. Like this antiquated blind draw.
Megyese got his wish on the 25th. His Wolves and Merrillville, the best two teams in Northwest Indiana, were blindly put on opposite sides of the Class 4A Portage Sectional field.
Consequently, Portage's gym was packed on Saturday night as these rivals battled for a chance to cut down the nets. In this day and age, anything to fill the bleachers is good.
Anything to have the best two teams on Saturday night is better.
This game was everything everyone expected. Two great teams who battled nerves, guts and competing against a like opponent.
At the half Merrillville's Victoria Gaines had nine points. Her rival, Keshyana Cooper had zero. Foul trouble kept her on the bench.
The Pirates couldn't hit a free throw for three quarters. But when the game was on the line, when everything was on the line, the Pirates were money.
Merrillville pulled out the white-knuckle 65-60 win. A little revenge was achieved for Pirates coach Amy Govert.
“This means everything,” she said, just seconds after giving Gaines a huge hug. “We've worked hard all year. A lot of people didn't give us a chance when the season started. This means a lot.”
Remember, in last year's sectional, Gaines went out with a torn ACL. The recovery took a long time. That was why the Pirates' start was so uncertain.
The 6-foot sophomore scored 13 points. She was active around the rim and challenged.
On this Saturday night revenge was served in purple.
Govert said she told her team to always forget about the last play. Or the last missed free throw. Or the last missed eight free throws in this case.
“We hit them when it counted,” Govert said.
Hat's off to these Pirates. This win was big. Huge, really.
And it was played on a Saturday night. Just as it should be.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.