It’s an exciting time for sports in Rutherford County. Monday marks the start of the state playoffs for five local programs while most baseball and softball teams begin play on either Wednesday or Thursday.
For East Rutherford they have yet another pair of talented basketball teams with state championship aspirations while Thomas Jefferson has a boys team that shocked everyone on its way to a second-place finish in its conference.
Gryphons fans are coming out in packs to support a tam that’s injected life into the student body and the county. I made an appearance at TJCA’s regular season finale against Cherryville as a spectator because I knew that the game decided the conference champion. I made it to Cool Spring before halftime of the girl’s game and despite my early arrival, I was relegated to a seat on the floor — a very unusual spot for a sports journalist.
Cool Springs was electric. I had never seen that gym filled with so much excitement, especially for a Thomas Jefferson basketball game. And I must admit, some of the intrigue rubbed off on me that night. I’m excited to see what kind of damage this team can do in the playoffs.
R-S Central’s boys snuck in as the No. 23 seed, but take it from someone that’s watched a lot of Hilltoppers basketball this season, they have the potential and athleticism to upset a few teams. If I were East Lincoln — R-S Central’s first-round opponent — I wouldn’t sleep on the Hilltoppers.
As for East Rutherford, I’m counting on at least one of its teams to give me a reason to make the trip to Greensboro next week.
The Lady Cavaliers and Rachel Camp are hungry to continue their 19-game winning streak until they hoist a championship trophy, and if that deadly press continues to cause nightmares like it has all season, I think that trophy might have a spot ready for it in a trophy case at 331 East High Road.
The varsity boys, however, have a much tougher road as the No. 11 seed. The Cavaliers have shown flashes of greatness throughout the season, but Shelby lurks on their half of the bracket. But if any team is due for a win over another, it’s East Rutherford over the Golden Lions.
But for those of you that are tired of watching indoor sports, relief is just around the corner as area baseball and softball teams are just days away from their first pitch of the season.
For the last week I’ve been catching up with all eight high school teams in the area talking to coaches about new players, returning players and expectations for 2014. Needless to say, hopes are high across the board, but I can’t blame them. Getting out and about in around the county with the top down on the convertible enjoying the breeze of 70-degree days and the sound of batting practice was enough to give me spring fever.
And if you’re unfamiliar with these teams and the names associated with each, make sure to pick up Friday’s edition of The Daily Courier which will include a 2014 preview for each team. Trust me, it’s worth the 75 cents and then some.
All in all, enjoy this week. It’s not often that you can enjoy the exciting conclusion of one season and fresh beginning of another all at the same time.