CHURUBUSCO — Any hope that Churubusco’s boys basketball team would be able to continue its postseason run was squashed Thursday afternoon after the Indiana High School Athletic Association announced its state tournament was officially canceled.
The boys won the Westview sectional March 7, and have been in a holding pattern since the IHSAA announced March 13 that it would postpone the tournament.
The nail was put in the coffin Thursday afternoon after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that all Indiana schools would be closed through May 1.
“It is with great sadness and disappointment that we inform Hoosiers of the cancellation of the remaining games of the 2020 IHSAA boys basketball tournament series,” said IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox. “While the Association maintained every hope of continuance, it is now evident those hopes are now unreachable.”
There will be no regional, semi-state or state championship games.
“The health and safety of our public remain paramount and our primary focus,” Cox said.
The Eagles finished the season on a 10-game winning streak, including their second-ever sectional championship. They ended up with a 17-6 record.
Though Churubusco head coach Chris Paul wasn’t shocked by the decision, he said he and the team remained hopeful.
“I’m not surprised, but until it was canceled we still held out hope. In a perfect world, we hoped we’d play at some point,” Paul said. “But obviously it is a very serious situation that our world is in right now.”
Plans changed quickly as the boys prepared for the regional games — just two days before the game, the ISHAA announced there would be limited people allowed to be in attendance. Less than 24 hours before the regional, March 13, the event was postponed indefinitely.
On March 13, Paul called a meeting with the players to explain the situation. He didn’t know that’d be the last time he’d see the team for a while, as school has also been canceled ever since.
“We didn’t know at that moment that we wouldn’t see each other again, and I’m not sure when I’ll see some of these guys again. That’s the hardest part. I just think of where we were not too long ago — I don’t feel like we have any closure right now,” Paul said. “But we’ll follow the rules — we’ll stay away — and when we beat this thing, we’ll get back together and talk about the year.”
It’s especially difficult for the team’s four seniors — Gage Kelly, Noah Wolfe, Tim Knepple and Hunter Perlich — who didn’t expect the last game of their high school careers would be their sectional title win.
“It’s strange. I would definitely love to go back and practice with these guys one more time,” Paul said.
The Eagles, along with 63 other teams in the state of Indiana, have a unique end to their seasons — they all ended the year on a win despite not having a state title.
“Obviously they go out feeling good about what they did,” Paul said. “We ended with 10 straight wins, a conference title, a sectional title — but there’s still that ‘what if.’”
The Eagles won the schools’ second-ever sectional title just two years after the first, and this year’s squad is the first to end the boys season on a win.
‘Abbreviated’ spring sports
Also on Thursday, Cox sent out a notice to all member schools saying, “Currently, we still intend to stage an abbreviated spring sports program.”
All of the spring sports were instructed to revert back to “during the school, out of season,” which would allow them to participate with non-school sponsored programs, including club and travel ball teams.
The statement finished with, “If we’re able to resume on May 1, 2020, the number of separate days of practice necessary to participate in any interscholastic event, including contests shall be set at five.”
Normally, the number of practices to participate in contests is 10.
The IHSAA continues to remind its member schools and the general public to follow the guidance of the governor and the Indiana State Department of Health via IN.gov/coronavirus.