In this uncertain world we are living in, local high school basketball is trying to tip towards normalcy. And with a little luck, we will be able to enjoy a real postseason that has helped define the greatness that we call high school hoops.
As the calendar creeps towards February, basketball fever is beginning to spike a bit. Locals are limited on attendance, but there is some excitement brewing as our Rutherford County district has diligently worked to get games in. The bad news is the gyms have not been rocking with overzealous crowds as neighborhood brawls take place twice a week. The good news is the players are getting to play a game that often times provides valuable life lessons.
“Normally we are a very routine based program that has a timeline for certain things,” says Smyrna head coach Mike Wright. “Perhaps a silver lining to this year has been our kids have to be able to adapt and change quickly. You can’t try to be normal this season so our players have learned about the different bounces life can throw your way and you have to be able adapt and move forward.”
With the second half of the boys schedule beginning to take place this week, the normal focus this time of year is district tournament. Likely to have a different look as one school will not host all the games for social distancing reasons, teams will jockey for position and hope for home court as higher seeds will host.
“With all that has been going on it is hard to believe we are about to start the second half of the district season,” says Blackman head coach Barry Wortman. “It’s time to really start fine tuning your team and try and get ready for the tournament season. All of our schools have done an excellent job of working together and trying to make the season happen.”
A perennial state title contender, Blackman is again near the top. Trailing only Siegel in the standings, Wortman hopes to get his team ready for another run. Unlike years past however, there are more hurdles for all.
“A more simplistic approach has been our philosophy,” says Wortman. “Try and control the controllable and just deal with all the other things. Our kids have done an excellent job of exercising great commitment.”
Of course the challenges are different for different teams, but all are facing obstacles like no season before.
“We have had to deal with a young team that had no summer of preparation and no pre-season scrimmages,” says Wright, who has no seniors on his Bulldog squad. “Coaching during game timeouts has become even more important for us because we have not been able to go over certain situations due to limited time together. I really like our team, we just are still trying to figure ourselves out.”
If things can continue moving in a forwardly direction, a completion of the basketball season is likely. The cancellation of last year’s TSSAA tournaments hopefully will be a distant memory as things are in the works for a different site should MTSU not allow the tournament to be held at Murphy Center.
“I really hope we can continue to progress and make the post-season happen”, says Wortman. “I am confident the TSSAA will handle things in a first class manner and make every effort to have the tournament if at all possible.”