By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor
A column that was published in the Hillsdale Daily News on Feb. 19, 2009
I sometimes like to pretend I know more than I really do.
I don’t think I’m alone in this and in fact I think it is somewhat a requirement of this profession.
Remember just last year when Sports Illustrated anointed the Detroit Tigers World Series champs, only to see them finish dead-last in the Central behind even The Boys in Blue from Kansas City?
Sports are so polarizing because you can analyze numbers and splits until you are indigo in the face, a shade past blue, and sit right behind a team’s bench all season long and still be left feeling like a complete idiot when all of your so-called “expertise” turns in what I like to I call “expertless”.
That said, sometimes I can still count on certain energies and trends to help me make a reasonable prediction of how something might play out and right now there are three things regarding local sports that I’d bet tomorrow’s lunch on, but probably not my Gordie Howe autographed puck.
I’ve talked to area coaches enough to know their collective opinions and seen enough with my own eyes to tell you this is exactly how several athletic scenarios are going to play out in the next few weeks. And I’ll even take you out to lunch if I’m wrong — but only if you can prove that you have never been wrong with an educated prediction in your entire life.
Without further adieu:
The Waldron Spartans girls basketball team will win the SCAA East
The Spartans hold a one-game edge on Hillsdale Academy and the Colts host Waldron in a make-or-break contest Saturday. I know Waldron still has to go to Camden-Frontier and the Colts have only Litchfield and Burr Oak left, but two things give me confidence in the pick — experience and depth. I can’t deny that Colts’ senior Connaught Blood has a competitive drive and will to win that compares with anyone in the county, but sometimes it is easy to put too much pressure on yourself whenever you have youthful teammates who are fragile at times. Waldron has seniors like Abbe Wines, Ashley Jagielski and Courtney Whitehead among others to rely on and even when their shots aren’t falling they know how to keep their heads up and make the necessary plays in other ways. As far as depth goes, the Spartans can go 10 deep no problem, with little to no fall off, while the Colts bench is mainly freshmen and sophomores, who are impressive in their own right, but not quite at the level of some of the Academy starters. It also doesn’t help that Laura Wonders is still hobbled by a foot injury and is day-to-day and key players Heather Lantis and Emily Pewe have been battling sicknesses down the stretch of the season. Even if the Spartans falter at Camden-Frontier I feel they have the necessary components to bounce back and bring home their first league title since 1974.
The Pittsford Wildcats boys basketball team will finish the regular season a perfect 20-0
Just take a look at what they’ve done so far and what they’ve got left and I think most of you will agree with this statement. They passed a major road test last week at Jackson Christian and have already taken down Waldron twice this year. Four of their final six games are at home and Tekonsha and Battle Creek St. Phil are road games that should be competitive, but close wins if the Wildcats continue to play how they have all season. The only thing that could possibly get in their way is the fact they have three games the final week of the season, with back-to-back home contests against North Adams-Jerome and Hudson to close out the year. They need to build a sizable lead against the Rams on March 5 so they can rest their top players for their battle with the Tigers, who aren’t the strongest team this year, but can be dangerous when they get on one of their runs and build confidence.
The Hillsdale College men’s basketball team will win at least one game in the GLIAC tournament
The Charger program turned a corner with its win over Grand Valley State a few weeks ago and Tony Gugino is finishing out his senior year strong. The team could easily lose a game when they travel to the U.P. this weekend for bouts with Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech, but I’d be surprised if Hillsdale didn’t win three of its final four contests. If that holds true it should put them in position to host a first-round conference tourney game, probably against Ferris State. They beat the Bulldogs twice this season and although the two teams are extremely similar, I think Hillsdale has improved more over the last month than Ferris has from talking to league insiders. It would be exciting to see the men’s program take the next step and I’m betting on it coming true.