SHELBY, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina was suppose to crown state champs in basketball this past Saturday but because of covid-19, the championships were postponed. A tough pill to swallow for the community of Shelby.
“Your heart drops in a way because that is what you have been playing for the whole season,” said Shelby forward Jack Hollifield. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
We have 5 local teams who have shots at winning roundball state title. Shelby was to take on Farmville Central in the 2A title in the Dean Smith Center.
Early last Thursday, the NCHSAA announced that the championships would be played without fans due to the coronavirus.
“I had to tell the cheerleaders they weren’t going to get to go and that was tough,” said Shelby athletics director Mike Wilbanks.
“They (the basketball team) were down because they weren’t going to get to have all their friends and all the people in the Dean Dome, but they were good with it,” said Shelby head coach Aubrey Hollifield.
Just a few hours later last Thursday, the news changed again as the big game would not happen at all. But the team took this decision in stride even though it was tough news to hear.
“I don’t know if they were in kind of shock because they were already hit with the other news and this was just another piece of news. I think the delayed decision kind of soften the blow a little bit," said coach Hollifield.
The fact that the ACC Tournament and other college conferences tourney around the country were also not playing helped these young student-athletes understand what was really going on with this situation.
At 26-3 and winners of 16 straight games, Shelby was ready to take on a hot Farmville team. 10 of the Golden Lions 13 players were on a Golden Lions football team that won the state title back in December. So it took the complete hardcourt version of the Golden Lions a while to really get rolling but they were doing just that as the season got put on hold.
In their last game in the Western Regional Final, Shelby beat Forest Hills who entered that game as one of the only undefeted teams in the state at 30-0.
“I liked my chances on last Saturday,” said coach. “I’ve got tough kids, we’re going to play good defense. They’re (Farmville Central) a good offensive team. We’re a really good defensive team. We might could have enforced our will on them and made some things happen and I thought we had a really good shot," said coach.
For basketball to take place, spring sports would have to get the thumbs up to start back up and spring sports have been suspended until April 6th. That is the earliest things could get back going if this situation improves.
“The thing that worries me the most about it is if we do play this game, what will my kids be like? We’ve worked to get them to this point and now all of a sudden, they are going to take a hiatus. My kids aren’t going to be shooting basketball. My guys are football guys. They’re athletes. They are going to be doing what ever is next or whatever is going on. They aren’t AAU guys. The team were are facing has a couple of guys that are going on to play college basketball so I know they are going to be in the gym shooting. I don’t know if my guys will be in the gym so that’s what I worry about the most.”
It has been a tough situation for everyone involved but the kids have not complained.
“I still have some that want to come and practice, but we can’t do any of that,” said coach. “It’s a weird thing but they haven’t pouted one time about it. They are just waiting on the next instruction.”