Good Wednesday to everyone!
Forgive me for taking a few days off, we had a death in the family. Funerals are a difficult time for every family, but when you truly listen to the words of those who loved the member who has died, you feel their impact, the strength of their character and the love. After attending my wife’s uncle Jimmy Pidgeon‘s viewing and funeral, my heart ached and for the first time in a long while my eyes welled. His brother, uncle Eddie, struck a chord with a wonderful tribute and tugged at our emotions with a phrase he repeated, time and again, “This fella was a great man.”
So, I was out of commission for a couple of days.
Also, I am still on vacation, but can you feel the spring sports season starting to energize? After being buried by a winter storm in late March, the depressing sight of high snow banks, bare tree branches and steady grey skies put many of us into the doldrums. There was little optimism of getting the seasons started or even completed. But like Jyn Erso in Star Wars Rogue One gave the Rebellion, a few spring-like days gave hope.
Now, it’s still been rainy and a bit chilly, but we are full steam ahead. I think. It looks like NEPA is piecing together the best it can a few days here and a few days there which resemble spring. My words of advice to athletic directors. … Take advantage.
It’s sometimes hard to fathom that there are:
- 26 days until the end of the tennis regular season
- 29 days until the end of the track and field regular season
- 36 days until the end of the volleyball regular season
- 37 days until the end of the lacrosse regular season
Those are the sports, I cover in the spring. And, as you can see, we are going to be cramming a lot of action into a very small period of time. Before you know it, the 2016-17 scholastic season will be but a memory.
With the seasons getting started, some really interesting story lines are already out there. Success is measured so many ways now in this era of “everybody gets a trophy.” For me winning will always be the first guide, and then of course there are other factors which create great sports success stories.
In getting ready for the spring sports season, I kept typing one word, over and over again. STREAK.
A couple of things always worry me about STREAKS. Going back and researching them is always a challenge, especially in spring sports seasons because you never know about rain and postponed matches or games. Nobody likes looking back at losing streaks either. But in sports, information and statistics drive interest. So, it’s my job to put in the long hours and look up these numbers.
When the UConn women’s basketball team lost in the NCAA Tournament, it saw a 110-game winning streak snapped. It brought into question the significance of a “winning streak.” Why? Well, sports teams change every year. Broadcasters make the mistake all the time, “the team is on a 110-game winning streak.” Unless the individual season consists of 110 games, it’s actually the program that is on the winning streak. Success of that magnitude is a great credit to the coaching staff and a large number of athletes that contribute to the program’s success through the years.
Now, don’t get me wrong, pride in a program is very important. And, having been a part of a winning streak myself as a high school athlete, it’s that pride that fuels athletes to put in hard work to continue such streaks. You hear it all the time, “Nobody wants to be on the team that ends the streak.”
However, winning streaks must come to an end. Especially on the high school level. At that time, they become the most interesting dual-edge sword. Everybody loves an underdog. Let’s face it, when you are dominant or at the top of the mountain, everybody is working hard to knock you off. And when it happens, it only takes one loss, one bad night, one miracle effort, to end it all. So, winning streaks, as impressive as they are, come with a great deal of pressure, which adds to the value of the program’s success.
Plus, they keep me busy.
Now, let’s look at what we have seen in two days and reflect on some history:
Abington Heights won for the 100th straight time in a Lackawanna League match when it defeated Scranton, 5-0, Monday night. It’s a significant number and a milestone the program deserved to celebrate. Remember, to keep this streak alive, the Comets have had to keep fending off Scranton Prep, which won 87 straight Lackawanna League matches — a streak that ended in 2013 at the hands of Abington Heights.
Just a reminder: Abington Heights will play at Scranton Prep in three weeks, April 26.
On Tuesday, Delaware Valley rallied with 4 goals in the final 4 minutes to defeat upstart Scranton Prep, 12-10. It preserved the Warriors’ winning streak in the Wyoming Valley Conference which began official play in lacrosse in 2013.
Just a reminder: There will be a rematch on April 25 at Delaware Valley.
There are a lot of winning streaks going on right now. They differ in their definitions, but are impressive nonetheless. I really don’t start making too many references until the streaks surge past 20 in a respective sport:
- Tennis: Abington Heights 100 straight matches in the Lackawanna League
- Girls track: Abington Heights 63 straight dual meets in the Lackawanna Track Conference
- Girls track: Lakeland 27 straight dual meets in the LTC
- Boys track: Lakeland 26 straight dual meets in the LTC
- Lacrosse: Delaware Valley 44 straight matches in the Wyoming Valley Conference
- Boys volleyball: Holy Redeemer 46 straight matches in WVC
There have been other streaks this sports year, which have been snapped.
- Girls volleyball: Holy Redeemer lost to Delaware Valley ending a 202-match winning streak in District 2 and 186-match winning streak in the WVC.
- Girls volleyball: Dunmore lost to Blue Ridge ending a 31-match winning streak in the Lackawanna League.
- Girls swimming: Delaware Valley lost to Scranton Prep ending 43-meet winning streak in regular season.
- Wrestling: Western Wayne lost to Honesdale ending a 52-match win streak in Lackawanna League.
And there are a couple that will continue into next season.
- Football: Dunmore 34 straight wins in LFC division games.
- Boys basketball: Scranton Prep 25 wins in Lackawanna League.
Again, these are streaks, but they are actually bound by the limits of the regular season. Abington Heights has lost matches in boys tennis during the nine-year stretch defined by the winning streak, but those matches have come in the state playoffs. Same goes for Delaware Valley lacrosse and Holy Redeemer volleyball. Track and field teams, however, only have a regular season to compile wins, and it’s usually a very brief schedule of 6, sometimes 5, meets a year.
For my money, the best winning streak of all time in NEPA, is the Carbondale Area Chargers boys basketball team of 1992-93 and 1993-94. The program won 59 straight games. Not in the league mind you, but OVERALL. That includes nine straight wins in the PIAA Class 2A playoffs. That’s pretty darn impressive. It stood as the PIAA record until Chester won 61 straight from 2010 to 2012.
There are others I found that warrant mention here because, again, these consist of undefeated and untied seasons that include postseasons. I may have missed one or two others, but remember — I am on vacation!
- 69: Carbondale Area Chargerettes in Lackawanna Track Conference dual meets (1979-86)
- 54: Carbondale Area Chargerettes girls basketball (1977-78)
- 53: Montrose Meteors boys basketball (1963-65).
- DYK? Montrose also won 88 straight league games in the mid 1960s.
- 52: Valley View Cougars boys LTC dual meets. (2005-13).
- 51: Lakeland Chiefs boys LTC dual meets (1984-1990).
- 51: Lakeland Chiefs boys LTC dual meets (1995-2000).
- 40: Western Wayne girls LTC dual meets (2007-14).
- 39: Lakeland Lady Chiefs girls track dual meets. (1995-1999)
- 36: Elk Lake boys basketball (1977)
In the end, winning streaks are nice. Sometimes you create parameters that border on the absurd to highlight them, like, wins at home, wins on Sundays, wins when games are decided by 2 points or less, etc., etc.
But my goal here is to say, these types of achievements deserve recognition.
That is all for today.
Let’s hope the weather improves and we can continue to have a rewarding spring sports season.