By Christopher Tenpenny
The Harrisonville boys’ and girls’ basketball teams ended 2020 much like the rest of the year went; with COVID-19 causing cancellations.
Both teams were forced into two-week quarantines in December, limiting practice time and cancelling games. The girls were forced to miss the entire Missouri River Valley Conference Tournament (MRVC) from Dec. 14-18. Head coach BryAnn Middleton was disappointed her team was unable to compete against the other teams in their conference.
“We essentially lost three games against conference opponents,” Middleton said. “It was tough not being able to play those teams and see how we matched up with them at this point of the season.”
For the boys, the COVID-19 concerns came because of the MRVC Tournament. On Dec. 14, the Wildcats beat Oak Grove 76-57. They then played again on Dec. 17 that saw them lose to Center 70-64. With one game left to play, the Wildcats were notified that Oak Grove had a player with symptoms and the Wildcats would also be forced to go into a ten-day quarantine.
“It was really frustrating when it hit,” Harrisonville head coach Jeff Langrehr said. “Everyone on our team was healthy and we had already played a game. We were supposed to play Pleasant Hill that night (Dec. 18) and a couple hours before the game were told we couldn’t play.”
The Wildcats also had to cancel their game with Butler on Dec. 22 and were unable to practice during that time. While missing games and practice is never ideal, Langrehr felt during the Christmas break was the best-case scenario.
“If we were going to get hit, this was as good a time as any,” Langrehr said. “We were already going to have a few days off with the holidays. We missed out on a few practices but added one on a weekend. We are good to go.”
The boys are 5-3 on the season with all three of their losses being by single digits. Langrehr used the practice time in hopes of turning close losses into close wins.
“We have not handled late game situations well and that falls on me,” Langrehr said. “We are 5-3 with five comfortable wins and three close losses. Had we won one of those games, we’d feel a lot better about our first eight games. Working on late game situations has been a point of emphasis in practice.”
The Wildcats first game will be tomorrow night as they host Belton, 22 days since their last game.
For the Lady Wildcats, their drought has been even longer. Their first game is tonight as they host St. Michael, 28 days since their last game. While it’s difficult to replicate game speed in practice, Middleton has a deep team that keeps it competitive.
“Fortunately, I have 11 varsity level players that really compete at practice,” Middleton said. “They all push each other and make practices competitive.”
The girls also have the luxury of playing a couple games against non-conference opponents before getting into the teeth of conference play. Middleton hinted the Wildcats had been working on some new sets and will try out a different defense.
“We get two non-conference games to work on some things before conference play picks up for the rest of the season,” Middleton said. “We worked on some things over break that we will get try out. We’ve got a full trick up our sleeve.”
This season continues to be one of a kind as teams try to navigate COVID-19 while being safe. What’s important is both teams are healthy and itching to get back on the court.