MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, a defending state champion in both girls and boys basketball, got the bad news Friday that the Minnesota State High School Basketball Tournament has been canceled due to the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Their girls team, led by head coach Tanysha Scott, played a near-flawless game Thursday, beating Simley Senior High School in the state semi-finals.
“Definitely can’t take our memories away, and we just talked about that last game that we played. You know, we saw some people, some players on the team do amazing things, you know. And I said, ‘If I have to leave on that note with this team, I’m OK with that,’” Scott said.
She had to gather the team Friday in the school’s gym to deliver the heart-wrenching news: They would not play for a state title. Scott had to provide some perspective for her players.
“We know that you worked hard for this, but this is something now where it goes beyond basketball. It’s not about basketball right now. It’s about the safety of everybody,” Scott said. “It’s a world issue right now … and I think they understand that, you know, after the emotions leave.”
Just down the hall, the boys team was meeting. They had just won their ninth-straight section title Thursday night, and they learned Friday that they can’t defend their state title. Head coach Travis Bledsoe used the meeting as a teachable moment.
“To be humble and gracious, because nothing’s ever promised, nothing’s ever given,” Bledsoe said. “That was the message I preached to them throughout the season, actually, so it’s kind of funny it would end this way.”
They accomplished much, and one day, they will recall those many memories of another successful run.
“It’s going to be a while, but it’s very, very tough,” senior Jalen Travis said. “It’s going to be a one-week mercy period, I could call it. I’m going to have to soak it in the next week, maybe take some time off. But I’ll get over it eventually.”
Because no one can take away what they did accomplish this season. And down the road somewhere, they will be able to look back and smile, for what was an unforgettable season.
“I’m just really grateful that I got the chance to play with them and be here with them for this long,” senior Nurjei Weems said.
DeLaSalle parents have started an online petition to finish the state tournament. Almost 5,000 people have pledged their support as of Friday night.