Mar. 26—It's that time of year again — and wow, was this one another challenge.
It's time for us to unveil our McAlester News-Capital All-Area Basketball Team, once again celebrating the amazing accomplishments of our area student athletes during this past basketball season.
First up will be the girls' team to publish in print and online Saturday, and what a year it was for our local teams.
Fantastic tournament wins, including, for example, a very memorable Pitt 8 Conference Tournament. Even despite the differences due to COVID-19 health and safety precautions, we still got to see some instant-classic games. And the gyms were absolutely rocking on Championship Saturday (I think my ears might still be ringing).
Then came the playoffs, and we saw our area teams blast hot out of the gate. I spent a lot of time traveling to different games, while also watching a few livestreams. I'm not exaggerating when I say I covered five simultaneous games in one night at one point.
We saw thrilling wins and heartbreaking losses. We even saw not one, not two, but three area girls teams make it to the state tournament this year. We saw the best out of our area athletes, as they helped give us something to cheer for after the tumultuous last year.
So when it came time to curate this year's all-area team, I knew my work would be cut out for me. And I'll be honest, this year's teams were made with some of the most razor-thin margins I have seen since I started this job. You ladies were just that good, and you should all take pride in that.
I say this every time, but I lose some sleep over these selections because I could make a case for each and every athlete both on and not on this list, and it makes for a difficult task. Because, especially this season, no one has worked harder to make happen what you all did this year. Between quarantines, COVID cases, and winter weather, all our teams still rose above it all.
With that in mind, I want to say congratulations to all our area athletes on the tremendous job you have done this season. And congratulations to all those that were named to this year's all area selections. I'm excited to be unveiling this year's teams on Saturday, and I can confidently say that you ladies helped make this year one of the most memorable yet.
So keep your eyes open for our Saturday edition, so you too can see just how awesome our area kids were this year. And fellas, don't you worry. Your selections are set to follow very soon.
Once again, congratulations to all of our area teams and thank you for allowing me to join you on this journey. It's been a blast.
Contact Derek Hatridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.