RIVER ROUGE (WXYZ) — The high school basketball playoffs were supposed to carry on this week, that was of course before the Coronavirus put a stop to all sports.
One high school basketball team was poised for the schools first championship in over 20 years, and as action sports reporter Justin Rose found out today, they are still trying to make sense that it’s over.
Last Thursday as everything was unraveling, River Rouge head coach Lamonta Stone gathered his top ranked boys basketball team, and told them the news.
“Probably one of the most disappointing days of my athletic career,” Stone said.
The states number one ranked panthers, who were trying to avenge a state finals loss from a year ago, wouldn’t play again, no one would, as the MHSAA followed suit of every other sports league, and shut it down to slow the spread of the Coronovirus. As you can imagine, the boys were absolutely stunned.
“I cried the whole day, I haven’t cried in seven years and I cried the whole day,” members of the Panthers recollected.
“Being a senior, it’s crazy because most of us have worked out whole lives for this moment in our senior year to be able to go somewhere and do something with our lives,” senior Elijah Parish said.
“Six games away from a state championship, and everything just ended that quick, it was just a sad moment,” junior Legend Jeeter added.
River Rouge finished #1 in all of the statewide publications but there’s a difference between being ranked #1 in those polls, and proving it out on the floor, that void is the difference as these kids try to pick up the pieces.
“We wanted to prove it to all other teams, everybody in River Rouge may know we were the number one team in the state but everybody else might not think that,” Parish added.
“We just wanted to prove ourselves,” junior Keyshawn Devlin said.
But they won’t be able to, no one will. The void of a lost championship is felt in high school gyms across the state, but the best coaches are doing their best to make it a learning experience, during a deeply disappointing time.
"When this curve ball hit, you were the number one team in the state, so you did everything you could do up until this point, and that's all you could do," Stone said.