One was a team that pulled off an upset; the other was a squad victimized by an upset.
But Fort Sumner and Grady have quite a bit in common as well, as they head into a Class 1A matchup Friday night. Both teams took some time getting off the ground.
Grady coach Alicia Rush thought the Bronchos had a lot to build on after their quarterfinal loss against Elida in 2008.
“We felt like we’d be all right, but we were losing one of our best players (Katarina Grau) as a senior,” Rush said. “You never really know how you’re going to regroup.”
Answer: Slowly. The first two weeks of the season passed, and the Bronchos were still searching for their first win after a 43-31 defeat by Floyd and blowouts at the hands of Farwell and Dora.
“We didn’t get a whole lot of wins early in the season, but we competed well,” Rush said.
Grady (16-10) didn’t really get on track until district, and hit its lowest mark after another loss to Floyd — this time in the Eastern Plains Athletic Conference tournament — dropped the Bronchos to 4-8.
“It was really frustrating at times because I had higher expectations,” Rush said. “You had to consider us a pretty seasoned team. When we didn’t (perform that way), I kind of had to go back to the basics.”
The basics paid off before too long. The team won the consolation bracket at EPAC, helping touch off a seven-game winning streak.
After a non-district loss to Fort Sumner, the Bronchos started another streak, a five-game burst to take them to the top seed in the District 4-1A tournament.
But this streak ended as well, as Clovis Christian held off Grady in overtime in the district tournament final. Rush credited Clovis Christian’s momentum from the tournament in the win, and hopes that loss can serve as a wake-up call.
“If you’re a competitor, that is going to be a motivator,” Rush said. “We were very disappointed in the loss.”
Fort Sumner, on the other hand, has a lot of late successes. The Vixens (19-9) were never too high or too low early in the season, as no winning or losing streak extended beyond two games.
The Vixens had big wins, 56-15 over House at the Eastern Plains Athletic Conference en route to a third-place finish. But they had some big losses too (75-35 at Elida on Dec. 12).
Soon after EPAC, the Vixens went on a series of streaks. A four-game streak was ended by Dora on Jan. 27, and another four-game streak was ended by Elida 64-41.
But the last streak mattered the most, as the Vixens scored a pair of District 3-1A tournament upsets. A fourth-quarter run knocked out No. 2 seed Dora, and the Vixens took over in the final six minutes to get a 41-36 win over Elida, which had beaten them in all of their three previous matchups.
Elida’s still in the playoffs, as they travel to Melrose for a game against Clovis Christian Friday. About 30 minutes away, Grady will still be in the playoffs, hoping to make the most of a second chance.
“We’re still in the state playoffs, and there are a lot of teams that aren’t,” Rush said. “We’re not satisfied, but we’re pleased.”