Todd Lancaster: Bias is not wrong if it's right

Mar. 8—Everyone loves to make lists, and inevitably, it is the most recent event that moves up the list the most quickly. At other times, people tend to be nostalgic about things that occurred in their youth and that's what causes some bias.

If you were to take a poll of the greatest high school sectional game you ever saw, until last Saturday, you get a lot of different answers and most of them would be about the old Washington Sectional or perhaps some of the Barr-Reeve, North Daviess and Loogootee battles from about a decade ago. However, all nostalgia and recent bias aside, I think what the 4,000 people in Loogootee's Jack Butcher Arena witnessed last Saturday is now at the top of my personal list.

I have seen more exciting endings to tournament games, some ending in both wins and losses, but the 5OT game between Orleans and Barr-Reeve is the one that had me on the edge of my seat the longest.

I was particularly proud of fact that there was very little controversy either on the court, in the stands or with the officials. And from my friends who engage in social media, that has remained pretty polite as well.

Orleans brought a very seasoned squad into JBA and I believe they were slight favorites on John Harrell's website. The anticipation for this game had been building since early in the year, when B-R needed 3OTs to take down the Bulldogs. The Vikes had the toughest path to the title, as they would have beat the two other best teams in the sectional to add its 18th sectional title since 1980.

For years people have compared teams from Barr-Reeve and Orleans, because of the similarity between them, as both put the same types of teams on the floor — well-coach, hardworking, disciplined and balanced. However, the Vikes have always seemed to find away to break hearts in Orleans, eliminating three very good in the three tournament match-ups in recent years.

To praise one player on this Barr-Reeve team is to praise them all. It's just the nature of the way this team is built. They are favored by five against Christian Academy on Saturday. Of the eight regional titles they have won since 2002, all have come at Jack Butcher Arena, a gym where they have played the most basketball at in recent years, other than at Kavanaugh Kourt or the Big Ship. That fact alone might be a real advantage, as most of these kids have been coming through that tunnel since fifth grade (or even earlier as fans). For Christian Academy their lone tournament game at JBA was a close loss in 2018 — to Barr-Reeve.

I wouldn't want speculate much on the upcoming regional, semi-state or potential state match-ups, but of the top five teams left in the tourney, they are all from the southern part of the state and all playing in Washington or Loogootee. In other words, I wouldn't be surprised to see a state champion from our part of the state.

Without looking too far ahead, we could say a very interesting semi-state waits in the wings. If they win, Clay City is only one of two teams that have actually beaten Barr-Reeve. and many consider No. 2 Evansville Christian as the strongest overall according to Sagrin ratings and strength of schedule ratings. However, they certainly played in a weaker sectional.

One thing is for sure by about 7 p.m. on Saturday night, things will be in a lot closer focus in Class A.