Shooting Hoops While Dealing with COVID-19 Doesn’t Stop State Trip

Bryson+Warren+drives+toward+the+goal+in+a+game+earlier+in+the+season.+The+boys%27+team+was+District+champs.

Brandon Blaisdell

Bryson Warren drives toward the goal in a game earlier in the season. The boys’ team was District champs.

This basketball season is a little different because of COVID-19. Players once used to full crowds with smiling faces screaming their names now look up to see almost empty bleachers only filled with parents. Though these are hard circumstances, the boys’ basketball team played with high spirits according to Junior Coby Robinson.

“The games have been good, the scores have been close, and we have played nothing but great competition. I’m excited about our next games,” said Robinson.

Some of their best games included the game against Morrilton on December 4, a tough and close game with the Tigers pulling through at 61 to 56; the game against Catholic on November 19, with Central winning 47 to 39; and the game against Cabot on January 15, 43 to 27.

“Even with a [limited] amount of games, only 14 instead of 20 this season, the score is 5-0,” freshman Daniel Woods said in December.

The players are confident in their skills and comfortable with their teammates. They have learned to trust  one another. As they learn to navigate this new world, they are also learning more about one another.

“Us coming [together] as a team and bonding every day and continuing to win and have fun while doing it has made this year bearable,” Woods said, “This is one of the best basketball programs I have been a part of, and I enjoy it every day!”

On top of not having the same number of games as previous seasons, the new rules and regulations have brought on some added challenges.  

“Games have been getting rescheduled and canceled due to COVID-19, but other than that, the season is going perfectly fine,” Junior Daijon McDaniel said.

Whenever something new about the virus was learned, a rule was changed and replaced with a safer substitute. Thermometer use and mask-wearing became part of every practice and game. Quarantine requirements also meant less in-person practice.

“It’s been so weird having this many rules now because of COVID-19. We have had weeks of practice off because of it,” junior Luca Haymon said.

Fans were not able to support their beloved team live. The team was no longer allowed to shake hands at the end of each game. 

“COVID-19 has made it difficult on everyone–the coaches, the players, the fans–but we are working hard as an organization to be safe in everything that we do,” junior Cody Robinson said.

This season, the boys’s team won the first conference title since 2008 and is the 6A Central Conference Champions. The team was highlighted by ESPN SportsCenter twice in the last week of February. This season has held 28 games, with only four losses and one tie.

“Proud of these guys. They have stuck together and kept improving all season,” said Coach Brian Ross. 

The team played in the 6A State finals at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Thursday, March 18 and lost to North Little Rock  65-55.