It isn’t easy to become a champion

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

To be the best at anything, it takes a relentless drive. It takes hours and hours of hard work to refine one’s skills. Often, it takes a short memory, a thick skin and willingness to accept constructive criticism: to be torn down so one can rebuild and become stronger. And in a team sport, it’s even harder. Multiple competitors must be pulling together for the same goal.
This week, the River Region boasts two teams that are one victory away from being able to call themselves champion. The West St. John girls basketball team and the Riverside boys basketball teams are headed to Monroe to compete in their classifications’ respective state championship games.
For West St. John, a victory Thursday over Vermilion Catholic would deliver the first state championship in the history of the Lady Rams program.
It would also put a punctuation mark on one of the most truly dominating runs we’ve seen on the court in quite some time. West St. John is 31-1 this season and has won a staggering 50 out of its last 52 games. Rams coach Lester Smith brought back his entire roster from last season’s state semifinalist and scheduled accordingly, having his team play upper classification teams more than ever before.
His players have thrived in that spotlight. Those players might bring Smith his first state championship after 27 years at the team’s helm.
For Riverside, Saturday’s Class 2A championship contest with St. Thomas Aquinas represents a chance to further entrench its
program as a true basketball dynasty. The Rebels are on the verge of their third state championship in the last four seasons
and will be taking part in their fourth straight state championship game.
A young Riverside team arrived ahead of schedule this season, sporting a rotation full of freshman and sophomore players. But at the end of the day, this talented and deep group may go down as coach Timmy Byrd’s best team. And speaking of Byrd, a victory Saturday would earn him a 10th state championship ring and further his growing legend.
L’Observateur wishes good luck to both teams. Bring it home.