CHARLESTON — North Marion High boys’ basketball coach Chris Freeman said it crushed him to look into the eyes of his star senior guard Gunner Murphy in the moment.
NMHS girls’ basketball coach Mike Parrish lamented what may end up as the missed opportunity of a lifetime for his Lady Huskies. And Parkersburg Catholic senior star point guard Madeline Huffman choked back tears almost sensing her high school career was over even as she sat victorious at the Crusaderettes’ postgame press conference.
Fairmont Senior’s boys’ team was also originally scheduled to play March 12 among Marion County schools, with the Polar Bears set to host Frankfort in the other Class AA Region I co-final.
Emotions ran far and wide across the entirety of prep basketball in West Virginia on the afternoon of March 12 as Gov. Jim Justice announced that all postseason play had been suspended or postponed indefinitely due to concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The announcement came just after 2 p.m. and immediately started circulating throughout the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center where the girls’ state tournament was in the midst of a Class A quarterfinal game between Parkersburg Catholic and Tucker County. The Crusaderettes were permitted to play out the remainder of their dominant 85-47 victory over the Mountain Lions, but then high school basketball in West Virginia went dark. The remainder of the girls’ basketball state tournament was suspended indefinitely, and the boys’ Class AA regional co-finals scheduled for that evening were postponed indefinitely.
There is no timetable for when or if postseason play will resume on either the girls’ or boys’ side, putting players’ high school careers in limbo and casting teams’ championship dreams into disarray.
“That’s the first thing you think of are those kids who have put the time in to have the opportunity to win a state championship,” said Parrish, whose No. 1-seed Huskies were originally scheduled to play in Class AA’s state semifinals on Friday, March 13 at 1:30 p.m. “You get clear down to the state semifinals only to find out that it’s going to be suspended. It’s the chance of a lifetime for them that they could end up missing out on depending on what happens.”