Saturday’s championship repeated last year’s title accomplishment for the Lourdes boys’ basketball team at the Pinnacle Bank Arena.
It didn’t duplicate it.
In ways that are known to us all and some ways only known to the members of the Knight basketball team, Saturday was a new experience.
From the composition of the roster to the competitive flow of the season and of the state tournament, the Lourdes team and its coaches embarked on a different journey in 2016-17.
Make no mistake, the final moments, the championship sealing moments, were almost identical. The feelings of elation and the high fives of congratulation had players, coaches and Knight program supporters reveling in blissful sensations.
Some of those supporters were last year’s senior players, now seeing the whole experience from a new perspective, a step back from what they had enjoyed in March 2016.
No matter how you factored into the Knight story, fan, parent, alum, teacher or administrator, Saturday was glorious.
As a bonus, it was also historic.
By defeating a very classy and talented Guardian Angels Central Catholic team, the Lourdes program put itself on a short list of four schools to have ever repeated as the Class D1 state champs.
Falls City Sacred Heart did it back in 1988 and 89. It was Johnson-Brock in 1997 and 1998. Spencer Naper accomplished the feat in 2002 and 03.
The Knight team’s strategy for achieving that history was not to acknowledge that it existed. Coach Joe Tynon noted in his post game interview that the discussion of a championship repeat was never even broached until the Knights were officially in the finals.
They knew that Saturday’s opportunity had a historic component.
But they went right back to work. Through a highly competitive game with twists and turns, highs and lows, the Lourdes team stayed focused.
And they got that title.
What’s next for the program? Hayden Miller, a senior leader on the court and, many opponents would attest, the biggest star on the team, said he feels the program is in good shape. Miller and his senior teammates will leave feeling confident that the Knight program will continue to succeed.
Next year’s journey won’t be the same as the one just completed. It will have a different methodology and a process all its own.
That’s alright. And if it ends with a glorious finish at next year’s state tourney, that will be just as sweet.