WILD BILL’S SPORTS ROUNDUP: Beware the Ides of March

Bill Turner

That’s the code phrase we use around corporate headquarters when someone thinks The Chief is a little grumpy.

The Ides doesn’t translate into “The Chief”, but on the Roman calendar, it’s the midpoint of every month and was supposed to correlate with the first full moon of the year. Remember, in Roman times, winter didn’t count for doing anything; much like the sports department on a snowy, windswept night.

But, thanks to Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” we know it for another reason. In 44 BC, a psychic told Julius Caesar his downfall would come no later than the Ides of March, the 15th to be exact. Sorta like my football predictions using a Ouija Board, but with more at stake than just a peg in the loss column.

When the fated day rolled around Julius joked with the seer, “the Ides of March have come.” The psychic replied, “Aye, Caesar; but not gone.” Like a tied basketball game when the clock hits zero; still some game left. (Or a UVA one with just .9 on the clock . . .)

Well, Caesar continued to his meeting at the Theatre of Pompey, and was summarily murdered by as many as 60 conspirators. And, today, the very spot where Caesar was assassinated is protected in Rome as a no-kill cat sanctuary. Seriously.

Yes, you always learn something when you read this column. Meow.

Since we’re getting close to the Ides of March, no better time to get the sports department back on track with its “A” game to keep The Chief happy.

We start off by acknowledging our “Big-11” high school basketball teams that still are in the mix for a state championship. While the list was long heading into the state quarterfinals, it’s now down to only two. As of press time the undefeated Northside boys (28-0) were set to play Western Albemarle (22-6) at the Salem Civic Center in Tuesday’s 7 PM Class 3 state semifinals, with the winner moving on to the state final at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond Saturday afternoon at 1 PM. Likewise, the Lord Botetourt girls (22-6) took on Abingdon (23-6) Tuesday at 6 PM at Virginia High in Bristol with the winner advancing to Saturday’s 11 AM Class 3 state championship at VCU.

While they bowed out in VHSL state quarterfinal play, congratulations go out to the boys team at Hidden Valley and girls teams at Patrick Henry, William Fleming and William Byrd. In the VIS, congratulations to the North Cross boys for making it to the Division III semifinals and the Roanoke Catholic and Faith Christian girls advancing to Division III state quarterfinal play.

On to the Roanoke Valley Sports Club, where basketball enthusiast will enjoy the club’s version of March Madness when renowned NCAA referee Duke Edsall takes the podium as guest speaker for the Monday, March 19th meeting at the Salem Civic Center. The festivities begin at 5:45 with the dinner meeting following. Contact Maggie Drewry at 540-353-1103 to join in the fun and purchase tickets.

Congratulations are also in order for long-time Roanoke broadcaster Dave Ross who was recently accepted into the VHSL Hall of Fame with its Lifetime Achievement Award. (see related article in today’s sports section).

Next, if spring is near and it’s time to turn the clock ahead, that must mean baseball is ready to go. The Salem Red Sox open the Carolina League season with a 7-game home stretch beginning Thursday, April 5 with Buies Creek visiting for 4 games, followed by three straight against Wilmington. The Sox have 16 April home dates that include April 16-18 against the Potomac Nationals and a pair of 3-game sets against Frederick and Myrtle Beach beginning April 24.

Finally, to the mail bag where one reader cues in on area college basketball.

Dear Wild Bill: So many area highlight reels in college basketball. What’s your top pick heading into March Madness? (Ed/Roanoke County)

It’s a toss-up, Ed. I’d put UVA’s run to the top spot and unanimous pick in the final regular season AP Top-25 poll, plus its runaway ACC regular season championship. But, right up there is Radford’s win in the Big South championship on a buzzer-beater by Carlik Jones that punched the Highlanders ticket to the Big Dance. 

Until next time, I’m putting on my Loudmouth Norwegian Olympic curling pants. Let March Madness begin with style.

Bill Turner 

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