Christmas break is nearly over. It is a sad time for students everywhere as it’s time to get back to the doldrums of the school year and an everyday routine.

For local prep basketball teams, it is the start of the most exciting time of the season. The end of Christmas break often signifies the end of something else for prep hoopsters, the completion of the preseason. Now is when it starts to matter the most for local teams.

Overall success can be defined in a lot of ways. Personal achievement, relationships formed with teammates, coaches building better young men and women can be named as a few of them. Success on the court, however, is determined by a narrow, clear-cut margin. On-court success is indicative of a team’s wins and losses. The more wins the better, obviously, but it is winning games when it truly counts that matters the most.

The games matter now. Team’s non-conference schedules have all but wrapped up, and it is time to get into the meat and potatoes portion of the season. League games are where seasons are made or broken. These games will determine if teams will compete in the postseason or watch from the bleachers.  

Players and coaches have spent all fall and the early part of this season preparing for the games ahead. All the jump shots in the summer or the 6 a.m. weight training workouts have been for these moments.

League games across all sports always tend to tightly contested. Even if the talent disparity among the teams competing is large, the intensity a league match-up produces can’t be duplicated in a preseason game. League games are about familiarity. A familiarity with the opposing coaching staff and players, and there’s a familiarity with an opposing gym and the fans who occupy it. That familiarity is why these games are so great. You know your opponent, and they know you. You know how they want to attack and they know what type of plays you will run.

The preparation these teams have gone through over the last few months and into the first few weeks of the season is important for that reason.

Without that preparation, teams don’t stand a chance.

Luckily, for most of our local teams, they are prepared. Now it’s simply a matter of executing when the games truly count.

That’s the hard part.

— Zach Beehler is the sports reporter at the Hermiston Herald. He can be reached at zbeehler@hermistonherald.com.

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