For the first time since 1911, there will be no high school boys basketball champions crowned in Indiana.
The IHSAA announced Thursday that the remainder of the 2020 state tournament has been canceled. The announcement shortly followed Gov. Eric Holcomb's order that all schools in the state will remain closed until May 1.
“We really wanted to see how we could finish the season out. It almost feels like there's no closure to the season,” said New Haven coach Bruce Stephens, whose team was one of six northeast Indiana teams who won sectional titles and were originally supposed to play in regional championships last Saturday. “But at the same token, we have to understand that it's about more than just us and basketball.”
The boys basketball tournament was the final IHSAA winter sport tournament still in progress. Snider and New Haven were still alive in the Class 4A tournament, Norwell and Leo were set to play in the Class 3A regionals and Churubusco and Blackhawk Christian were set to face each other in the Class 2A regional semifinal.
The gymnastics state finals were held at Ball State as scheduled Saturday, albeit without fans, and all other winter sports had already held their state finals.
Churubusco coach Chris Paul said one of the more difficult parts of the last week has been the fact that coaches and players (at least those who are not immediate family) have only been able to communicate electronically.
“That Friday we were planning on practicing and then heading down to compete for a regional championship, and we heard about the postponement and we met and talked about it. I told them that we would go ahead and stay in touch, and unfortunately I haven't seen them since,” said Paul, whose team was on a 10-game winning streak. “We haven't been together since then. I think that's the hardest part, that we haven't had any closure.”
Spring sports have had early-season contests canceled because of school closures. According to information distributed to schools Thursday, the IHSAA still intends to hold postseason tournaments for spring sports, assuming schools – and sports – resume.
Many players shared reactions to the abrupt end of the season on social media, and seniors reflected on high school careers that ended earlier than they hoped.
“High school basketball in Indiana is different! The crowds, atmospheres and crazy buzzer beaters! I'll miss all of it,” Snider senior Jayshawn Underwood wrote on Twitter. “(T)hanks to my brothers for these last 4 years and the amazing coaches.”
“Thank you Busco Boys Basketball for one of the best years of my life,” Churubusco senior Hunter Perlich wrote, posting a picture of his teammates celebrating. “The friendships and memories we made will last a lifetime. We go out as champions!”
“I want to thank the New Haven community for all the support these past 4 years! I came in as a little kid and you guys helped me mature into the young man and player that I am today,” New Haven senior Donovynn Lewis wrote. “Wouldn't have wanted to spend my 4 years anywhere else. Forever a Bulldog.”
Stephens said he is supporting players, especially seniors, whose concerns now extend beyond basketball.
“These kids don't even know if they're going to get to walk at graduation. Everything's up in the air right now, so whatever I can do to help those guys,” Stephens said. “Nothing's promised to you, you don't know what's going to happen. So you have to cherish the moments when they're there.”