Cayuga County-area high school sports teams have spoiled us in recent years.
I started at The Citizen in September 2015. Within my first six months on the job, I covered one state finalist (Skaneateles hockey) and two state semifinalists (Skaneateles boys soccer, Moravia boys basketball).
Skaneateles hockey's 3-2 overtime loss to Kenmore East in the Division II state championship was one of the best games I've ever seen in person; the Lakers were five minutes away from back-to-back state titles, but the Bulldogs tied the game in regulation and won it in sudden death.
Last winter, I covered Moravia boys basketball's run to the state championship that started with a win in the Section IV, Class C quarterfinals over Spencer Van-Etten and ended with a victory over Lake George in the NYSPHSAA Class C championship.
Those Blue Devils were a special team — I might never again see a group battle back from 21 points in the first quarter to win a state tournament game like Moravia did in the regionals against Section III's Cooperstown (a year after beating the Hawkeyes, in the same game, in double overtime). Games like that ... you don't forget.
Just like I'll always remember covering the highest-scoring high school football game in New York state playoff history. That happened last fall on Nov. 18 when Skaneateles and Section VI's Cleveland Hill combined for 119 points in the Class C state semifinal. Lakers quarterback Patrick Hackler accounted for nine touchdowns in that game. Skaneateles moved on to win the state title a week later.
But special things like that don't happen all the time. For the first time in my three years at The Citizen, we won't have a boys basketball team playing for a sectional title.
Had anyone said that two weeks ago, I wouldn't have believed it — of the nine schools in our coverage area, eight qualified for sectionals and three had a No. 3 seed or better.
Moravia (seeded No. 3 in the Section IV, Class C playoffs) couldn't recapture the magic from last year and bowed out to Lansing in the quarterfinals. Union Springs, fresh off its first IAC division title since 2008, was eliminated in the same round.
Weedsport, the No. 1 seed in the Section III, Class C playoffs, was knocked out by Tully in the semifinals for the third straight year, despite beating the Black Knights by 36 points in a match-up earlier this season.
It goes to show how hard it is to win in sectionals; one bad day could mean the end of a team's season.
This year attention has shifted to some different programs. Auburn hockey captured its first sectional title since 2014 on Monday and has a chance, with a win over Ogdensburg on Saturday, to move on to its second state final four.
The Maroons defeated Clinton in the section championship, but the margin to get there was slim — Auburn needed sudden-death overtime to defeat New Hartford in the semifinals.
Auburn's season is an example of young athletes setting a goal and doing everything in their power to obtain it. Maroons captain Jake Morin reached 100 career goals earlier this season, and when I spoke to him about the accomplishment for a story, Morin didn't seem all that interested in discussing it.
Instead, Morin talked about "the banner." He said 100 career goals is cool, but it doesn't mean much if the Maroons aren't the last team standing. Well, he delivered the overtime goal in the semis and a hat trick in the section title game (with plenty of help from the lightning-quick hands of Johnny Malandruccolo and the poise of goalie Jack Kalabanka).
Whether the highlight of the season has already passed or if there is more to come remains to be seen.