The agony of defeat exceeds the thrill of victory in tourney upsets

The Wide World of Sports’ opening theme showed the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. If you are involved with upsetting a higher-seeded team or you’re on the team that is upset, then you realize that the emotion of the agony of defeat can be crushing and exceeds the elating emotion from the thrill of victory.
Many fans look forward to upsets in the basketball tourney.
There have been several upsets in the prelims and quarterfinals so far: the No. 9 Cony girls beat No. 1 Edward Little, the No. 7 Thornton Academy boys upset No. 2 Deering, the No. 13 Foxcroft Academy boys defeated No. 4 Oceanside and No. 5 Caribou, the No. 13 Winslow girls beat No. 4 Gardiner and the No. 7 Camden Hills girls defeated No. 2 Oceanside.
It is one-and-done time. Seasons of high expectations can be dashed on a last-second shot, a player in foul trouble, an injury, a missed shot, a turnover, or an official’s call.
I have been on both ends of this spectrum and believe me when I tell you the agony of defeat hurts.
Usually the team that pulls off an upset does not go on to win a state championship, in fact, many times they lose the  next game. This is especially true when it is a No. 1 team getting knocked off by a No. 8.
Having been involved with both situations a number of times, I relate the following:
In 1972, the eighth-seeded Bangor Rams knocked off the undefeated and No. 1 Houlton Shiretowners in a quarterfinal and two of my No. 1 teams were knocked off by an eighth seeded team: Bangor in 1971 by Brewer and John Bapst in 1995 by Orono. Neither won the Eastern Maine championships those years.
When Bangor upset Houlton, Bangor lost the next semifinal game to Lawrence.
Upsets are great when they happen as most everyone loves an underdog if they are not playing their favorite team. However, if you get to a state championship usually a team that has knocked off the No. 1 team from any lower seed does not win the state championship because they really are not the best team to represent their class.
Now having a team that is not as talented as the No. 1 team but has a respectable regular season that goes on to win a tournament and then win a state championship is a horse of another color.
These less talented lower-seeded teams have to win four games to win state championships.
John Bapst was seeded third in 1989 and 1990 and went on to win state championships. They had to upset two higher-seeded teams to win both tourneys and beat both favored Western Maine teams to win state games.
Orono was seeded sixth in 1962, got to a state championship by beating three, two and one seeds, but lost in the state final to Gorham.
In 1977, Bangor went in seventh and upset No. 2 Mt. Blue only to lose the next game to Nokomis.
In 1988, John Bapst went in sixth, had to win a prelim game and then upset the third-place team in the quarterfinals, the second seed in the semifinals and lost in the finals in overtime to Fort Fairfield.
The pressure in these No. 1 vs. 8 matchups is always on the No. 1 team and in the prelims on the higher-seeded team.
They are expected to win and if they do, then everyone says “you had the best team you should have won,” but if you lose, then you are a disappointment because you should have won. It is a no-win situation for higher seeded teams, especially undefeated ones in these 1-8 matchups.
For two undefeated teams (22-0), Orono in 1969 and John Bapst in 1993, the feelings after the state games by the players and coaches were ones of relief, more than elation as the pressure was on all season as both teams were picked to go all the way and possibly be unbeaten.
From a player’s perspective, being a No. 1  team is difficult because of the pressure. The 1955 Bangor High School team went in as No. 1 and was expected to win the states that year. Bangor won the state championship and went on to win two games in the New England Tournament at the Old Boston Garden.
However, the pressure to win was immense and anything less than a state championship would have been seen as a failure.
We have to remember that these are teenage student-athletes who suffer through this agony of defeat.
Having experienced both sides of this as a player and as a coach, I think it is very important for coaches to prepare their teams, if they are the heavy favorites as a No. 1 seed, on how to handle this difficult situation if they are upset..
I understand the elation of the winners in an upset win, but I have far more sympathy and understanding for the losers.