Seahawks coping with somber end to successful season after state tournaments were canceled
photo by: Carter Gaskins
Nobody wanted to leave the gym, because that meant the season was really over.
Bishop Seabury’s boys basketball team returned to Lawrence early Friday afternoon. BSA head coach Jonathan Raney addressed the team one final time, though even he wasn’t fully over what had just happened. The message was brief, but the rest of the team wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
Players and coaches lingered in the gym for another hour to cherish their final moments of the 2019-20 campaign, a season that had so much promise before an abrupt ending in the Class 2A state tournament.
“That’s this group; this group loved to be with each other,” Raney said. “That truly defined this team. We were a team in every sense of the word. We played unselfish basketball, and we were a team off the court. They truly want the best for each other.”
Normally, those types of scenes don’t take place when a team wins the last game of the year. Bishop Seabury dismantled Valley Heights, 72-45, in the opening round of the Class 2A state tourney on Thursday at Bramlage Coliseum.
The Seahawks (22-2, No. 1 in Class 2A) decided to watch the final game of the quarterfinal round, as they expected to face the winner of Hoxie/Garden Plain in the semifinals. That’s when BSA discovered the game would never take place, however.
Raney was making his way back to the team, when he received a text message from an assistant. It came with the news that KSHSAA had decided to cancel the rest of the state tournament due to the threat of coronavirus, meaning there would be no state basketball champion at any level for the first time since 1930.
“My heart just dropped; I knew what the text was going to say before I even opened it,” Raney said. “It was difficult. For the kids to work so hard and set themselves up for the opportunity to play for a state championship, to not get the opportunity, you feel for them. It is tough.”
No. 2 seed Bishop Seabury, which had never finished higher than third place at state, was the highest seed remaining in the Class 2A boys division. No. 8 Hillsboro, No. 5 Sterling and No. 6 Garden Plain also made it to the semifinals.
After being one of 48 teams across the state to have their season cut short, the Seahawks spent Thursday night coping with the realization that they were nearly 48 hours away from their first state title in program history. Naturally, the team ordered pizza and hung out together in the hotel.
Bishop Seabury is currently on spring break, and school will be shut down for a few weeks, but Raney plans to give his team a proper celebration at some point.
“Hopefully when they return we can have a big celebration and honor these boys,” Raney said. “They’ve earned it. There will be banners for this group; they deserve rings. They deserve to be celebrated like champions.”
BSA was the No. 1 team in Class 2A all year via the poll by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. The Seahawks recorded their most wins in program history and finished with their highest win percentage. They also posted their largest margin of victory (32 points) in a single season.
Bishop Seabury ended the year on a 15-game win streak, which was also a school record. The Seahawks set team records in average points per game (71.2) and total points scored on the season (1,171) as well.
“I’m just proud of all they’ve been able to accomplish,” Raney said. “Truly one of the best seasons in program history and one that should be remembered fondly by everyone. Not the way that it finished.”
Junior guard Zach Bloch led the team in scoring with an average of 17.5 points per game. Junior Stavian Jones poured in 15.9 points per contest, which included a 32-point performance against Mission Valley in the sub-state semifinal.
Sophomore Joao Carlos Ramirez was one of the most improved players in the area, averaging 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Senior Cobe Green, who had to have open-heart surgery in the offseason after missing his junior campaign, averaged 11.0 points and 2.0 steals per game as one of the best two-way players in the area.
Green has aspirations of playing basketball at the next level, especially with his ability to shut down an opposing team’s best player. Senior Luke Hornberger, who was a formidable presence in the paint all season, is hoping to pursue baseball at the collegiate level.
Senior Sam Bayliss, an important reserve for the Seahawks, will play soccer at Grinnell College. Senior Jett French also played in his final high school basketball game Thursday, even if he didn’t know it at the time.
“I feel bad for the seniors,” Raney said. “They poured a lot of hard work into reaching the place where we got to. To not have an opportunity to finish it off, we are disappointed for them.”
At the same time, Raney understands that Bishop Seabury isn’t the only team to not have the chance to fulfill a yearlong goal.
Raney acknowledged that plenty of other squads had promising seasons cut short. Haysville-Campus was undefeated in Class 6A boys, and was coming off its first win in the state basketball tournament since 1989. Both Piper (22-1, Class 4A) and Basehor-Linwood (21-2, Class 5A) were also two wins away from a state title.
Even Raney’s alma mater, Cowley College, qualified for the NJCAA Division I National Tournament for the first time since the 1956-57 season before the event was postponed to April.
“I hope these decisions save even one life as we all know it’s bigger than basketball, it’s bigger than sports,” Raney said. “But you can’t take away the disappointment that our kids and other kids around the country are feeling now.”
Remaining teams before state basketball tournaments were canceled
Class 6A boys
No. 1 Campus (23-0)
No. 3 Blue Valley Northwest (21-2)
No. 4 Blue Valley North (20-3)
No. 7 Olathe South (17-6)
Class 6A girls
No. 1 Liberal (23-0)
No. 2 Topeka (23-0)
No. 4 Derby (21-2)
No. 6 Olathe East (18-5)
Class 5A boys
No. 1 Andover (23-0)
No. 2 Basehor-Linwood (21-2)
No. 3 Hays (16-6)
No. 5 Kapaun Mt. Carmel (17-6)
Class 5A girls
No. 1 McPherson (22-1)
No. 2 Andover Central (22-1)
No. 3 Topeka Seaman (20-3)
No. 4 St. Thomas Aquinas (18-4)
Class 4A boys
No. 2 KC Piper (22-1)
No. 3 Bishop Miege (19-4)
No. 4 Augusta (19-4)
No. 8 Rose Hill (13-10)
Class 4A girls
No. 1 Nickerson (21-2)
No. 3 KC Piper (21-2)
No. 4 Bishop Miege (21-2)
No. 7 Clay Center (16-6)
Class 3A boys
No. 2 Collegiate (21-3)
No. 3 Beloit (21-3)
No. 4 Galena (19-5)
No. 8 St. Marys (14-10)
Class 3A girls
No. 1 Nemaha Central (24-0)
No. 2 Frontenac (22-2)
No. 3 Halstead (21-3)
No. 5 Cheney (21-3)
Class 2A boys
No. 2 Bishop Seabury Academy (21-2)
No. 5 Sterling (20-4)
No. 6 Garden Plain (19-5)
No. 8 Hillsboro (15-9)
Class 2A girls
No. 1 Spearville (24-0)
No. 2 Trego (23-1)
No. 4 Valley Heights (22-2)
No. 6 Garden Plain (19-5)
Class 1A boys
No. 2 Little River (23-3)
No. 3 St. John-Hudson (23-3)
No. 5 South Central (21-5)
No. 8 Stockton (15-11)
Class 1A girls
No. 1 Central Plains (26-0)
No. 3 Olpe (26-0)
No. 4 Hanover (24-1)
No. 7 Centralia (19-8)