After the All ‘A’
Every coach whose team gets a chance to play in the All “A” Classic wants to leave Richmond with momentum, but not all of them do. For one thing, almost all of them lose their last game before leaving town, as Danville’s boys and girls did last week.
And then there’s the dreaded “All ‘A’ hangover,” a mysterious funk that some teams seem to fall victim to when the buzz of playing in that event is replaced by the humdrum of returning to the regular season. Some teams don’t snap out of it in time for the postseason and make an unceremonious and unexpected exit in the district tournament, as we have seen happen in the 12th Region a number of times.
So it will be interesting to see how the Danville boys and girls respond in the waning days of the regular season and in the district tournament, which is now just two weeks away. Both teams have to consider their trip to the All “A” this season a success, with Danville’s boys becoming the first area boys or girls team to reach the semifinals and its girls team pulling off a first-round upset over a bigger, older team.
Danville girls coach Judie Mason knows all about the “All ‘A’ hangover” from her days in Somerset, where her teams had tremendous success in the statewide small-school tourney, including a championship in 2000. Her Danville team has been one of the surprise teams in the region this year at 17-5, and she said last week that it’s important for her young team to maintain the momentum it generated in Richmond. The Danville boys enjoyed a three-day stay in Richmond, but coach Matthew Yates said after their loss to Betsy Layne on Saturday that he wanted the Admirals to put the whole thing behind them as they refocused on their goals in the district and regional tourneys.
Yates’ last two teams have done that, but only in the short term. In 2009, the Admirals followed a first-round All “A” exit with three straight wins, including one over a Garrard County team that would go on to win 20 games. But then they lost six of their last seven, falling to Lincoln County in the 45th District final and West Jessamine in the 12th Region first round. Last year, the Admirals won three of four following a quarterfinal loss to powerful Shelby Valley in Richmond, then went 2-5, losing to Boyle County in the district final and to Pulaski County in its regional opener.
The one Danville girls team that Mason has taken to Richmond finished strong after a first-round loss to Middlesboro in 2008, her first year at the school. The Lady Admirals came home to win three straight games and six of eight before falling to superior teams from Lincoln County in the district final and Rockcastle County in the regional.
There is less time than usual this season between the All “A” and the postseason, making it all the more important for the Danville teams to hit the ground running. We’ll find out soon enough whether they will, as the boys return to action tonight with a home game against Casey County and the girls host Bardstown on Wednesday. Both teams then host Lincoln County in a doubleheader Friday.