Forget that the San Antonio Spurs are not dominating the NBA like in years past or that the Pleasanton Eagles didn’t quite make it to the state tournament this past season.
There was still plenty of basketball to watch, and it turned into a great year for some of our favorite college teams as far as championships were concerned.
Many folks and sportswriter types consider Texas more of a factory for great football players than basketball.
But would you believe that if the Texas Tech Red Raiders had knocked off Virginia Monday night in the finals of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, it would have been a clean sweep for Texas college teams?
First of all, we can start with the University of Texas Longhorns, who had a disappointing season in the Big 12 and were not invited to participate in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
The next best thing for them was to accept an invitation to play in the National Invitational Tournament held at Madison Square Garden in New York and they took full advantage by winning it all and perhaps saved the job for head coach Shaka Smart. The Longhorns had to beat five teams in the tournament and they did it by playing some of their best basketball of the season.
Then the icing on the cake came next when the Baylor Lady Bears, losers of only one game all season and champions of the Big 12, came through with a one-point victory over defending champion Notre Dame and gave Coach Kim Mulkey her third national championship as the coach of the Baylor women.
The victory in the finals didn’t come easy. After enjoying a 14-point lead in the third period, the Lady Bears saw two of their stars, Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox, go down with injuries and that allowed the Fighting Irish to cut into the lead.
Brown was able to come back and play, but Cox’s injury was more severe and she was lost for the night after being carted off in a wheelchair.
But Baylor had other players who could take up the slack and with the score tied with only seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Chloe Jackson drove the lane for a layup and a two-point lead. Notre Dame still had time to tie the game when their best player, Arike Ogunbowale, went to the line with two free throws, but missed the first to give Baylor the one-point victory.
It would have been a miracle if Texas Tech had been able to knock off Virginia and they almost did it in the men’s final Monday night.
With the score tied in the final seconds of regulation, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver got off two shots to win the game but both missed.
In the overtime, it was all Virginia as they went on an 11-0 run to ice the victory.
No matter how you look at it, three teams from the state of Texas gave us all something to root for. Two of them won championships and the other was the runner-up after losing in overtime.