After a long season, we're finally reaching the decisive point of the winter sports season.
Getting here always seems like an accomplishment.
Not only does it last over three months when the other scholastic seasons last two, the early sunset, the late games and the breaks in the conference schedule for the holiday recess in December and Regents exams in January make it seem like an everlasting season.
But now, the regular season is almost at an end, and Wednesday, area basketball teams will find out where they're going to land in the upcoming Section II tournaments.
These teams play their entire seasons to find out where they're going to be placed for sectionals, and a few area teams have stood out among the pack this season. Plus, it's always interesting to see how a team fares when it steps outside the confines of its conference. Whether a certain team succeeds or not says a lot about it and the competition it plays throughout the season.
The Fort Plain girls basketball team has run over its Western Athletic Conference North opponents and stumbled only once, against Middleburgh, which finished third in the South division.
We could get an idea of how the Lady Hilltoppers are going to perform during sectionals this week when they play in the WAC Cup championships. They will open the tournament Tuesday against Mekeel Christian and Friday night - if they get past Mekeel - they will face either Galway or perennial WAC champion, Berne-Knox-Westerlo.
A couple of Foothills Council teams have had some strong showings during their last games of the season. The Gloversville Dragons had a strong showing against the Scotia-Glenville Tartans - who blow out everyone - playing them close until the game got away from them in the fourth quarter.
Yes, the Tartans were playing without senior guard Andrew Tabbert, but even without him, they still have plenty of firepower.
After struggling against Johnstown last week, the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots got my attention when they defeated third-place South Glens Falls by 20. Due to their 7-10 overall record and 5-8 mark in the league, they will probably be seeded somewhere in the middle of the Class B pack, but they always benefit from playing in the Foothills Council and may surprise a few teams in the tournament.
Then, there are teams that have been strong all season. The Canajoharie Cougars have been playing well all year under first-year coach Phil Schoff. Expect a high seed there. The Fort Plain Hilltoppers have been hit-or-miss this season and handed the Cougars their only WAC North loss early in the season.
As always, I wouldn't be surprised if the Class D teams from the area make some noise during sectionals. The Northville Falcons and St. Johnsville Saints tend to draw a benefit from playing the larger Class C schools in the WAC. Even joined with Oppenheim-Ephratah, the two schools have a low enough combined BEDS count to remain in Class D.
This is the time of year coaches say they want their teams playing their best, and some are. How well they're playing determines how long they survive past Wednesday.