The omission of the Moscow Bears from the final A-2 Associated Press Top 5 boys basketball poll in the State of Idaho was unquestionably justified by many. Every single A-2 Top 5 team had a much better record than the Bears 10-13 mark. That takes one back to the old adage any team can be beaten on any given night. And if one doubts that concept, ask the Madison Bobcats, Bishop Kelly Knights or the Inter Mountain League champion St. Maries Lumberjacks.
It has been a remarkable basketball year for the City of Moscow. With the Idaho Vandals making a Cinderella finish in the Big Sky Conference along with the newly crowned Moscow Bears being State Champions, it should make a prestige entry in the 1981 pressbook for both. Pressbooks can at times be highly overrated.
The most important fact to A-2 basketball fans residing in Northern Idaho was a northern team won the State Championship. This accomplishment proves two important facts, which are people in Northern Idaho know what a basketball is and teams from the northern part of Idaho are just as good as their southern counterparts, regardless of what sportswriters in Boise say. This year's A-2 tournament was unique in another way being that it was the first time two northern schools vied for the state championship.
Let's ponder season records for different high schools playing basketball or sports in general. Why shouldn't A-2 teams play more A-1 schools in the regular season, since a teams objection should be to get experience to win a state championship. Sure, the team might take a mediocre record, such as Moscow's, to the State Tournament, but they will have better experience playing larger schools which will help them in post season play.
It can and surely has been argued that many teams with worse records had tougher non conference opponents. Supporters of such teams can say with great conviction, "Yes, we lost more games but look at who beat us." I didn't fail Basic Logic 101 in college, but if a teams objection is to run up their record against smaller and lower talented teams to overwhelm their state adversaries and land in the Top 5 AP poll weekly, maybe I should enroll in an immediate crash course on the subject.
Moscow's style of play against St. Maries was superb. Fellow columnist Bob "Bones" Davis described the Bears as playing smart, poised and cool. I couldn't agree more. The Moscow Bears beat the best and therefore are the best. But let's also tip our hats to the runner up team, St. Maries. The Lumberjacks could have easily quit when they were down by 20, but displayed pure guts by coming back to be 2 points shy after a short shot fell off the rim at the buzzer. Kent Sullivan, Marc Maher, Brian Sines and Tim Jeremias will see plenty of basketball action in the future.
The reaction of Moscow's state championship was one of joy, not only in the high school's community but all over most of Northern Idaho. A concert at the University of Idaho's Jazz Festival 1980 was even interrupted half way through the ceremony for the announced good news to be greeted by a roof raising cheer by high school music students from all over Northern Idaho.
As for the Bears cagers, there was ultimate ecstasy after the championship game and the lowering of the nets in Pocatello's Reed Gymnasium. On that night, Moscow's dream became a reality. The Moscow High School Bears can finally say they are Number One, the best in Idaho A-2 basketball.
The election of Alex Flores and Don Marek to the outstanding player list at the A-2 State Tournament was even better news. Both should see college action next season on the hardcourt as will several other seniors who played A-2 high school basketball. Northern Idaho sure did produce some great basketball players and memories for the 1980 season and it promises to get even better for the north next year.
So vote away and omit teams from Northern Idaho you Boise area sportswriters. Yes Southern Idaho, we do exist for something much more than our silver mining and timber revenues.
Hey there. I'm Rick Coe and thanks for stumbling on to my blog which contains columns I wrote while working for the now defunct Kellogg Evening News which was located in Kellogg, Idaho.