Oran boys win first state basketball title
The NCAA is not the only place where March Madness is in full swing. This is the time of year that teams have one shot to advance or go home -- for good. Anything can happen. Just ask the Oran Eagles boys' basketball team, which defeated the Crane Pirates 70-63 on March 11 to win their first state championship.
How special is this? Oran not only had not ever won a title, but the team had not even competed in a title game in 48 years. They made the most of this shot.
Sophomore Jacob Shoemaker said the win was "like a dream." Coached by his father, Joe Shoemaker, he played the game of his life. His 33 points, combined with senior teammate Max Priggel's 19 points and Layne Johnson's 10 points helped make the celebration possible.
It was a battle and remained close throughout, but in the end, you know what they say: Maybe Oran wanted it a little more.
Coach Shoemaker told semoball.com's Phillip Suitts that he was "ecstatic" with the "total team effort."
"To be able to come through with a win like this. I know a lot of people at the beginning of the year didn't expect us to be here, but our kids believed and they battled," he said. Their perseverance paid off.
Advance also made it to the state championship but came up short. The team lost 65-62 against Walnut Grove.
"Tough game. Tough loss," Advance coach Bubba Wheetley said. "We played hard all the way to the end, they just made a few more shots than we did."
The Oran girls basketball team reached the final four for the first time in school history, and the underclassmen-heavy roster gained some valuable experience from their fourth-place finish.
"Defense and rebounding is what wins championships and brings it home," coach Ethan Evans said. "I hope we soak that in and also get that other year of experience and not to get that deer-in-the-headlight look whenever we step out here on the floor again hopefully."
Congratulations to these basketball teams on historic seasons. You demonstrate the value of hard work and competition, and you remind us of the reward our efforts yield -- and how sweet it is.