If Mifflin County was Mayberry, Kevin Kodish would definitely be my choice to play the role of Andy Taylor.
Now, if you're not a fan of the old Andy Griffith show, you might want to stop here. But of the two major pseudo religions in the south - Griffith and basketball - I became an ardent fan of the former while living in Richmond, Va., some 20-plus years ago, and learned how it applies to almost everything in life.
The folksy, aw-shucks sheriff always seemed at the beginning of each adventure to be anything but a genius. But after watching just a few episodes, you quickly learned that he was the only smart one in the cast, and underneath that stereotypical bumpkin exterior was a quick thinker who was always a step ahead of his foe.
It wasn't until Happy Days that Opie Taylor morphed into basketball-playing Ritchie Cunningham, but I'd be willing to bet that the first of the two world-famous TV dads he acted under could well have taught him a thing or two, perhaps enough to get him a scholarship to the University of North Carolina.
Kodish's nemesis of the week, rookie mentor Steven DeArment, is a math teacher. That, too, says something about a coach's character - in fact, I'd say that math and science teachers have made some of the best coaches I've seen on the sideline in any sport over the past two decades.
Thoughtful, logical, always looking ahead oh, wait - that's pretty much the same as Andy, isn't it?
DeArment's first year on the sideline has been marked by success despite roadblocks. Like an algebra problem with an ever-changing variable. DeArment has met that challenge and solved each problem that has come his way.
But then, so has Kodish. And, the old pro that he is, he never let a bad game get him down. When his team started sliding through the midseason, Kodish never wavered. He just waited.
We talk about games where you can "throw out the record book." Most of the time, that's a bunch of hooey - if these teams were meeting at the end of the regular season, one with a 3-18 record and one 18-3, you could pretty well pick the winner.
Not so this time. Even the historical record - one of Lewistown dominance - means nothing until the final buzzer sounds tonight in State College. Indian Valley's higher seed and better record is matched by Lewistown's upset win over the No. 1 team. We're 0-0. We're all even.
Tonight, the two will face off for the third time this year. Since each won one game, there's no issue with the difficulty of winning three in the same season. There will be three 1,000-point scorers on the court, along with a strong supporting cast from both teams.
And then there will be the coaches, who may provide just as much entertainment as the players, not to mention a study in the psychology of sport. I expect you'll see plenty of animation from the two leaders, hear a bit of shouting, see a few more hairs lost on a couple of heads.
But what you'll see is just a game face. In reality, DeArment will be working his slide rule, trying quietly to find a solution to whatever is thrown at his club. And Kodish will be on the front porch with Opie and Aunt Bee, playing his guitar, confidently avoiding a poker face that might give his opponent an edge.
And no one's going to be changing the channel on this one until it's over.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.