After Wednesday's District 4 Class A boys soccer semifinal - in which East Juniata's Spencer Reinford all but single-handedly walloped Bloomsburg - Panther coach Mike McGarry approached Tiger counterpart Don Troutman on the sidelines and wished East Juniata well in the state tournament.
Actually, that's a bit of an understatement - McGarry sincerely said he hoped this was the year East Juniata would go all the way, and said he'd be cheering for the team that just ended his club's season.
It was a great show of sportsmanship, and one of the things that helps scholastic sports to remain pure.
On the girls side, East Juniata's Lori Goodling had to be nervous with the way things were going in her semifinal, which like the boys, was a state qualifier. The Tigers played catch-up twice to Millville, but that doesn't mean much when you've had the luck they've had in the District 4 event in recent years.
East Juniata made the playoffs each of the four preceding years, but starting in 2008, were shut out, beaten in penalty kicks after two scoreless overtimes, edged by one goal, and last year gave up the golden goal in overtime. All four of the victors were members of the Heartland Conference.
The Tigers were better prepared this year, perhaps because, knowing the Tri-Valley League didn't provide the same level of competition, they scheduled all of their non-league games against quality Heartland opponents.
Three of the four Class A finalists are Tigers - two from East Juniata, and the Benton boys - as each of the semis included a team with that nickname. Southern Columbia - also the Tigers - didn't advance; the East Juniata girls face the Loyalsock Lancers.
East Juniata's coaches both lamented the fact that District 4 has only two state qualifying spots in Class A, compared to three for District 3. District 3 gained one girls spot this year after most of its soccer moved from the spring, which was a separate tournament, to the fall.
The PIAA will tell you it's fair - Mechanicsburg uses a formula, basing the number of qualifiers in the 16-team state bracket on the number of schools who sponsor soccer in each district. For the boys, District 3 has an edge because it has 30 Class A teams compared to 21 in District 4.
But the margin of difference is just one for the girls: 27 teams in District 3, 26 in District 4.
District 4 had larger tournaments in both genders, because every team with a .500 or better record may enter. District 3 uses a power rating system (District 4 does not, which often leads to poorly seeded brackets), but caps the entries at 12 per gender.
If District 3 used a .500 rule, then it would have had 15 teams to start the boys postseason - same as District 4 - but Halifax (11-6), Hershey Christian (9-9) and Carson Long (6-5) were cut out on points.
The girls bracket is a bit more convoluted - Hershey Christian's girls also were .500 (8-8) and missed the playoffs, while 8-8-2 Millersburg got in. But above the Indians in the standings were four sub-.500 teams, whose power ratings were higher.
In District 4 - which had 17 qualifying girls teams in Class A this year - only nine of the District 3 records would have been good enough for tournament play.
One of the District 3 semifinals features the sixth and seventh seeds in that tournament - the same teams were third and fourth behind East Juniata and Juniata in Tri-Valley League play this fall - while any of the four District 4 semifinalists could be legitimate state contenders.
In this case, it appears the PIAA's math doesn't add up.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.