The high school sports landscape is filled with magical moments ... wonderful happenings that seem to come out of nowhere and are totally unexpected.
But rarely, if ever, does one of those magical moments occur on Super Bowl Sunday.
Yet, it happened this past Sunday at the IHSA-sanctioned Grayslake North Sectional cheer competition — an event postponed on Saturday due bad weather and dangerous road conditions.
In a cheer sectional, the top five scorers in each division (big schools, smaller schools and coed teams) qualify for this coming weekend’ state meet.
And on Sunday, the usual area powerhouse teams — Stevenson, Lake Zurich, Grant, Wauconda, Vernon Hills, the two Grayslakes and Mundelein — all punched their tickets downstate, along with ...
The Zion-Benton Zee-Bees.
The Bees have long been regarded as the area’s best sideline cheer squad at basketball games, but they’ve never been considered a contender in team competition.
So, imagine the moment — make that moments — on Sunday when 1) the Z-B girls completed their routine and knew they’d nailed it, and 2) later, when the announcer called out the school name as a qualifier for the state tournament.
That is high school athletics at its most memorable.
There is a bit of irony here. Because Zion-Benton and Stevenson both qualified for state, neither varsity cheer squad will be on hand Friday night in Lincolnshire when the two schools’ basketball teams play for the North Suburban Conference Lake Division title and the No. 1 seed in the Lake Zurich Sectional.
All told, nine area schools will be competing at state — the same number as last year.
Missing is Antioch, which failed to qualify for the first time in the short history of this sport.
In terms of scoring, you need to hit 90 to be a player for the state title.