Success in sports is defined by winning. “Winning isn’t everything ... it’s the only thing,” is the quote often associated with Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach. But while that perspective scores well in the locker room pep talk, it fails to take into account other points of view that are just as valid. One is that you can have a great season without going all the way. Another is that, particularly at the scholastic level, you can learn a lot about effort and pride and teamwork, even when they don’t result in ultimate victory.
Platt High School’s basketball had that kind of season this year. The Panthers did not go all the way, which following a Hollywood script would have taken the team to the state championship. That hope fell by the wayside when Platt lost 84-71 to Waterbury Career Academy recently in the Class L state semifinals. But as the Record-Journal sports team of Bryant Carpenter and Sean Krofssik put it, “the Panthers put together a season not seen on the West Side since 1997-98.”
That season featured a 19-win season and 1,455 career points for Jamel Riddle. Those “stood as the program’s hallmarks for 25 years,” noted the R-J report.
This year’s record of 20 wins and six losses included a 1,626-point career for Anthony Nimani. “I’m proud of myself and proud of my treammates in how far we have come in the last four years,” Nimani said. “I wanted to have an impact on the program and change the culture at Platt. We changed history.”
The Panthers went deeper into the CIAC tournament than ever before, and went farther than ever before in advancing to the Central Connecticut Conference Tournament. That puts a different perspective on coming up short.
“This was a special group of guys,” said Shawon Moncrief, Platt head coach. “They worked hard for the City of Meriden and have nothing to be ashamed of. This was just a tough way to go out.”
Indeed, it’s tough to lose, but that’s part of what sports is about as well. It’s hard to see Platt’s season as anything but a remarkable success.