You may not like hearing this.
Or maybe you will, depending on your attitude.
But here in St. Maries, we’re spoiled. There is no other way to say it.
We hope that is the take away from watching another one of Coach Bryan Chase’s basketball teams play in the state championship game Saturday in Nampa.
True, it was not the finish we’d all hoped for.
Ending the season on a loss is tough, especially when you are two or three shots away from the alternate result.
But this is the third time in four years St. Maries has played in the state championship game at the Idaho Center.
That should be enough for gratitude, let alone the fact that St. Maries won one of those three games, and brought home a third-place trophy the last time it did not advance to the title game.
But that is not the only reason we’re spoiled.
There is more.
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Eight times in the last eight years St. Maries has qualified for the state tournament.
And what is far more impressive than that: The Lumberjacks have NEVER lost in their opening game at state.
Not once have we seen St. Maries play in the consolation bracket. Each and every year the Lumberjacks have advanced to the semifinals and given themselves a chance to play in the following day’s title game.
Even the best of coaches, with the best of teams, occasionally falter in the quarterfinals and find themselves fighting for the fourth-place trophy.
This year that was Ambrose, last year Bear Lake.
Not this program.
No, there is something special going on with Lumberjack basketball right now.
How long it lasts, no one knows for certain. We hope many more years.
But for now, enjoy it.
These things do not always last forever.
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The current coaching staff has remained largely intact over the past eight seasons apart from the additions of a couple of the players who began this run with Coach Chase some eight seasons ago and now serve as assistants.
The stability and success has created not only high school varsity and JV programs chop full of athletes, but excitement through the district.
• • •
St. Maries Middle School has three boys basketball teams, a seventh grade team, an eighth grade team and a third team made up of both seventh and eighth graders.
Don’t take that for granted, not every small school district has that kind of turnout.
In fact, many don’t.
The three middle school teams played early this week at home, and play again the 17th of this month.
When the high school coaches walk into that gym – which they do often – and the young hoopsters see them there, they know it could be them two or three years from now playing at the Idaho Center contending for a state title.
And you can bet those coaches will still be there with them.
Congratulations, Coach Chase, Coach Eberlin, Coach Becktel, Coach Smith and Coach Ebert on doing a state-caliber job, yet again.
And thank you.
It does not escape notice.
Collin Scheel is the sports reporter at the Gazette Record.