LEXINGTON – The sports world stopped in its tracks this week.
On Thursday afternoon, citing concerns with the ongoing spread of Coronavirus, the KHSAA announced it would be indefinitely suspending both the boys’ and girls’ state basketball tournaments at Rupp Arena.
“We’re not calling it a cancellation,” KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said during a media availability after South Laurel’s 58-57 win over Louisville Sacred Heart. “There may eventually be a way we can finish. We don’t know.”
He said the final decision was made during the first quarter of the day’s only game, which started shortly after 11 a.m. Central Daylight Time, allowing the game to be played to its conclusion.
“Maybe we’ll get an opportunity, maybe we won’t,” Tackett said of resuming the tournament, which Marshall County’s girls and McCracken County’s boys have yet to begin play for.
The Lady Marshals were seated behind press row, waiting for official word, when the news broke.
“It’s frustrating, but the fact that we got to experience all the stuff leading up to the actual game is important for the girls,” Marshall County interim girls’ basketball coach Aaron Beth said. “They worked so hard and won that regional tournament final this year and had a great practice and send-off at school on Tuesday, and we had a really good practice here yesterday. So, we got to the gym, ready to go, and at halftime of the game before, they said they were going to call it off.
“It’s out of our control. It’s one of those tough situations, but you just have to deal with it and move forward. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to play. But, if not, it was a great season.”
For the Mustangs, who were Thursday afternoon still in Paducah, the uncertainty of the still-developing situation still exists, too.
“I’m trying to figure out what our next move is,” McCracken boys’ coach Burlin Brower said. “I’m glad they’re at least considering postponing. I was worried they were just going to cancel it, and that we weren’t even going to get an opportunity. Now, we have the opportunity to still play this thing. I’d rather postpone it and bring all the fans in, and get the real experience, than go up there next week and play with just the teams and no fans. That’s kind of a little bit of good news, anyway.”
For the Lady Marshals, whose season – especially Beth’s tenure with it, which began after Marshall coach Dan Langhi was arrested in late December and charged with DUI – has had already its share of adversity, this presents another moment for the team to show what it already has, he said.
“Life’s full of adversity and surprises,” Beth said. “This year has been full of adversity and surprises for them. The way they’ve responded shows their character and what good kids they are, and how they’ll be able to be very successful in everything they do for the rest of their lives.”
With spring sports across the commonwealth slated to begin in the next two weeks, there’s concern that those will be delayed, as well.
Tackett said the KHSAA wouldn’t be mandating any stoppage and instead leaving that to the discretion of the individual school systems.