Win or lose, Turkey Valley’s girls understood value of prep sports
I have to be honest, I didn’t get a lot done at work between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. last Monday. Nor did I accomplish a lot here in the office between 11:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursday.Oh sure, my eyes were glued to a computer screen but little, if any, tying was taking place; instead, I intently watched Turkey Valley will itself to yet another Class 1A state girls basketball title game.Down nine with 5:29 left in the state tournament opener against Janesville? No problem.Down seven points and shooting an abysmal 27.6 percent from the field against Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton in the semifinals? No problem.Of course, we know now the ultimate goal, a state championship, was not reached, but there is no shame in losing to a team like Springville, just like there is no shame in finishing second in the state two years in a row.But those two scintillating games against Janesville and Exira/Elk-Horn-Kimballton were all I need to see to realize that this Turkey Valley team is a champion.I have another confession I need to get out of the way: I’ve never seen — in person, at least — this group of seniors play a basketball game.Over the years, I’ve seen them play volleyball, run track and play softball, but somehow, I’ve missed them on the court. And as long as I work in newspapers, missing out on this team — one of the best, if not the best, girls basketball teams to ever come out of this part of the state — will be one of my biggest regrets.What I’ve seen on my computer screen the past two state tournaments, though, tells me all I need to know about this group of Trojans.When things are going bad — and even in those two wins last week, there were rough stretches — they don’t pout, they don’t point fingers and they don’t quit.Instead, they have this collective attitude that even though I was 166 miles from Wells Fargo Arena came through loud and clear.OK, we’ve got to pick ourselves up, we have to play harder and we’ll be just fine.Not once — not in that dreadful third quarter against Janesville or in an almost-as-dreadful second quarter in the semifinals — did the television cameras catch even a hint of panic in these girls.This team, no matter what happened Friday night, can be boiled down to one word: Special.How many teams having a horrifying shooting night and trailing 31-17 going into the fourth quarter of a championship game would throw in the towel? Most, but then again, the Trojans of recent years aren’t most teams.Instead, Turkey Valley rallied to within 35-31 with two minutes to go and gave their fans one last memorable charge.I’ve looked at Dorothy Huber’s pictures, and I understand the pain and the anguish that can be seen on so many faces after Friday night’s game ended.But I hope these girls will remember the picture on the front page of this paper as much, or even more, as the one that shows them holding that trophy.One of the reasons I picked a celebration shot from Thursday’s semifinal victory was that’s how I think this team should be remembered, for the Trojans of the past few years — even if I saw them only on a computer screen and a TV — will remain one of my favorites.It’s not because of the 72 wins the past three years, it’s because of that never-say-die, refuse-to-lose attitude I witnessed last week.The hard lesson is that, yes, sometimes, you lose, but when you don’t pout, when you don’t point fingers and you don’t quit, then you get the value that can be found in high school sports.And Turkey Valley most definitely got it.