NOVAK: Lessons to be learned by both
Two things happened Friday night at the Dowagiac and Edwardsburg boys basketball game.
They each had a direct effect on the outcome of the game, which was the Eddies snapping the Chieftains’ seven-game winning streak.
Dowagiac headed down Dailey Road to Edwardsburg, feeling pretty good about itself. After all, it had won seven straight games and sat atop the Wolverine Conference South Division standings. They were 9-4 with its four losses coming against Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids Union, defending league champion Otsego and Lakeshore.
It did not take long for me to see that the Chieftains were not prepared for a hungry Edwardsburg team that stood just one game behind them in the division standings. Dowagiac had become complacent. The coaching staff knew it, and so did I.
On the other hand, the Eddies were chomping at the bit to get another shot at Dowagiac after having lost to the Chieftains 61-46 back on Jan. 10. Edwardsburg was motivated. Now, all it had to do was to stick to the game plan.
That plan was for the Eddies to control the tempo of the game. They needed to stay away from getting into a fast-paced game with the Chieftains. Edwardsburg also needed to attack the basket, especially in the paint. The Eddies accomplished both things for nearly the entire game.
Dowagiac came out flat. It was not shooting well from the field, and the defensive energy that it had played with during the winning streak was lacking. Head coach Danum Hunt recognized it right away. He tried to get his team focused and back to playing hard. But it would not happen on this night.
For both teams, Friday night’s game could not have come at a better time.
In Dowagiac, Hunt and his staff took the team back into the gym on Sunday to begin preparation for a Wolverine Conference non-divisional game against Allegan on Tuesday night. Motivation should not have been a problem as I talked with some of the players following the game, and they knew that they did not give maximum effort and were ready to get back to playing the style that vaulted them to the top of the South Division standings.
For Edwardsburg, it was all about continuing its momentum and gaining confidence as the season begins the stretch drive to the postseason. The Eddies have won seven of its 10 games since returning from Christmas break. Its only losses have come against Mishawaka, Indiana, a one-loss Lakeshore team and an undefeated Schoolcraft squad.
Losing is not always a bad thing for a team. Winning is, of course, a lot more fun, and both teams have enjoyed being on the right side of the final score more often than not. But taking a loss, especially one, from which a lesson can be learned, I would say, is more valuable.
I believe in that old saying that “you learn more from a loss than you ever will from a win.” Edwardsburg may have learned its lesson from a loss to Dowagiac a month ago. The Chieftains certainly learned their lesson last Friday night.
Now, we will have to wait and see which team learned the most from its lesson. The two teams could meet again in the Division 2 regional, which is being hosted by the Eddies next month. I cannot wait to see the rubber match.
Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org