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What's the purpose of the regular season?


They've done it again. Another Lawrence High team has used the regular season as a tune-up for the postseason, when the games really count. It is amazing how often LHS sports programs save their best for last. And I'm not exactly sure it's the best idea. But it seems to be working. Saturday, at the Free State High gymnasium, the Lawrence High volleyball team earned a trip to state by knocking off the top-seeded Free State Firebirds and fifth-seeded Shawnee Mission North.During the regular season, LHS lost to both schools, losing all seven sets to Free State and two out of three to North. That's 1-for-10 against their sub-state opponents in the regular season, yet, somehow, the Lions found a way to go 4-1 at sub-state. Unreal. Perhaps LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson, who started on the Lions' 1995 state championship squad, which did not lose a game all season, learned something from legendary LHS coach Joan Wells. Consider this quote from Magnuson after her Lions finished 1-3 at the Joan Wells Invitational and dropped to 6-15 overall earlier this year."Wells used to always say that one of the keys to winning state was peaking at the right time," Magnuson said. "We were within five points of every team in every game all day. We're getting there. We just haven't put it all together yet."Maybe Magnuson knew something the rest of us didn't. Although the Lions won just one more match after the Wells Invitational, they clearly got better in the weeks that followed. That much showed on Saturday, when they knocked off Free State in straight sets - 27-25 and 25-20 - after dropping three sets to the Firebirds less than 48 hours earlier. In years past, Lawrence High's success occurred both in the regular season and postseason, but lately, the Lions have waited for the right time to break out their A-Game. Coach Brad Stoll's baseball team did it last spring, and the boys basketball team, coached by Chris Davis, did the same last winter. Saturday, after her team's victories at sub-state, LHS volleyball coach Stephanie Magnuson admitted that waiting until the end to play their best volleyball of the season might not have been the right move. "We've stressed this day since the beginning of the year, maybe to a fault," Magnuson said. "Maybe if we would have done things different we might have won a couple more matches along the way." Maybe. But who cares? Trading 26 regular-season losses for two sub-state wins sounds like a deal just about every coach in the state would take. What are your thoughts? Better to have a good regular season and marginal success in the playoffs or would you rather use the season to build momentum and peak when it counts? Still searching for Hidden Heroes_Have you seen someone go out of their way to help make the local high school sports scene click recently? Have a story about a super fan, a player or a devoted parent who has helped any of the local high school teams in some extraordinary way? We want to hear about it._Check out The Dividing Line's [Hidden Heroes blog][1] and clue us in about the person you've seen who makes Lawrence's high school sports scene spectacular. [1]: http://www2.ljworld.com/blogs/dividing_line/2008/oct/13/hidden_heroes/


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