San Antonio – In light of growing concerns over COVID-19, the UIL Boys State Basketball Tournament was suspended Thursday upon the conclusion of the 3A semifinals. Those associated with the three San Antonio programs playing in the state tournament – Cole, Wagner and Brandeis – remain hopeful they will have the opportunity to play for a state championship in the near future.
The Cole Cougars played in the last game before the decision went into effect, coming away with a 58-44 win over the Peaster Greyhounds in the process. Cougars’ head Coach, Noe Cantu, responded to the decision to postpone the tournament after the win.
“It’s definitely an unfortunate situation for everybody,” Cantu said. “You know, these kids they work so hard to get to this point, they prepared themselves for this moment.”
Wagner was set to play Thursday in the first 5A semifinal game against defending state champions, Mansfield Timberview – a rematch of last season’s state final. The Thunderbirds are making their fifth appearance in the state tournament and head coach Rodney Clark said the postponement has been hard, especially for those players graduating this spring.
“I was ready, you know, I was ready to coach these guys up and whatever and I just felt bad for them because all of the work that they’ve put in to get there,” Clark said. “With 12 seniors, this is their last hurrah and who wants to end it like this?”
Brandeis would have been making its program’s first state tournament appearance Friday to play the defending 6A Champions, Duncanville. Senior Ty Fontenot said that although the decision to postpone the tournament is the right choice, it still is hard to digest for a team that had tallied a 33-3 record.
“At first it’s just devastating,” Fontenot said. “You know, we’ve been working our whole season for this and we finally got here and we just had our – well it was going to be our last practice today – and we were super excited to like go play in the Alamo Dome.”
Broncos head coach, Marc Gardner, said the decision was made in the best interests of the health of all parties involved and that the coaching staff has been using the events as an opportunity to further coach the players.
“We’re explaining that there’s bigger stuff out there than basketball and our games,” he said. “And so we talked about the community health and the spread of viruses and viruses mutating. We kind of talked a little bit about all of that and why this is what is best.”
After the conclusion of the Cole-Peaster game, UIL Deputy Director, Dr. Jamey Harrison, indicated that the UIL has developed a contingency plan for the state championships yet to be played and that it is their ‘intention to complete this tournament.’ Dr. Harrison went on to say that there is not enough information to provide alternative dates for the tournament. The UIL further suspended sectioned contests through March 29th but left practices up to the discretion of school districts. With a reschedule date up in the air, coaches will attempt to keep players motivated indefinitely.
“It’s just going to be one of those things where we’re going to have to try to find reasons for them to be as excited again,” said Clark.
Despite being in limbo, Wagner Junior point guard, Ja’Sean Jackson, said his teammates are just as focused.
“Everybody is staying in the gym, everybody staying ready and sharp,” he said. “We’re not relaxing because you never know what’s going to happen.”