Although football and baseball have almost always been at the core of this sports fan's viewing diet, basketball has also been a prime dish many times.

But it hasn't always been that way. In fact, it took high school basketball playoffs to restore my love for basketball.

Seeing the Glen Rose girls and boys basketball teams qualify for the Class 4A playoffs reminded me of how fun it can be watching live basketball. Watching basketball on TV is just not the same. And the emotions unleashed by high school basketball fans can be more intense than most other sports.

The young Glen Rose girls got a taste of that last week when they played their bi-district playoff game on the home court of the Mineral Wells Lady Rams. Coach Ramsey Ghazal's Lady Tigers survived the influence of the fiesty, enthusiastic crowd and stayed alive this week. Coach Clifton Owens' Glen Rose boys team won a hard-fought battle with Alvarado in a District 8-4A playoff to secure fourth place and qualify for the playoffs as well.

As usual, the intensity ramps up when the playoffs are within reach for both teams.

When I was a kid, the New York Knicks were shown quite often on network TV on Sunday afternoons and I became attached to them. I loved watching the Knicks' stars from that era, and there were plenty - Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Jerry Lucas, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere. My favorite player was DeBusschere, a sharpshooting 6-6 power forward now in the Hall of Fame.

As time went by, those great Knicks players gradually faded away into retirement, and my interest in watching basketball faded for several years.

After the NBA installed its Dallas Mavericks franchise, my interest in basketball picked up again. But the Mavericks struggled in their first few years. They didn't resemble the Knicks of their glory days. There were no Reeds, Fraziers, Monroes or DeBusschers playing for the Mavericks in those days. Again, I lost interest in basketball.

It took high school basketball to revive my love for basketball, years later.

My first trip to cover a high school team in a regional tournament as a young sports writer was to Wisdom Gym at Tarleton State University in Stephenville. I was the sports editor of the Vernon Daily Record, and I covered the Crowell High School boys team when the Wilcats qualified for the Class A regional there.

The Crowell boys had a quality team with speed and quickness, but not a lot of height. The team they were facing, as I recall, had three players who stood at least 6-5 - amazing height for a Class A school.

It was a great matchup, but what made the biggest impact on me was the roaring crowd. The gym was packed and rocking. Both sides had huge crowds in attendance, and the noise just blew me away.

The intensity of the action on the court and that crowd noise was like no other sports event I had experienced up to that time in my life. I was immersed in it, and it drew me into the game as a fan - even though, as journalist, I couldn't show it.

The thrill I got from seeing the two teams battle and hearing the crowd explode with pure emotion brought basketball back to the forefront of my sports radar.

I was fortunate enough to see the ultimate high school experience in the mid-1980s when the Vernon High School girls had a killer team that won a Class 3A state championship. The year after they won the title, the team reached the state tournament for a second straight season. Vernon had a chance to win its semifinal game and advance to the state final once again when one of its players took a long pass from a teammate with time running out and trailing by one point. The girl who caught the ball was all alone for a final shot attempt under the basket.

She missed.

It was an excruciating moment to witness.

It also was a dramatic example of the extreme highs and lows live high school basketball can offer. There really isn't anything quite as exciting as when the stakes are high in the playoffs.

Mark Wilson is the senior reporter for the Glen Rose Reporter.