Boys and girls basketball teams turn their eyes to postseason tournaments


The girls basketball team looks fierce under their masks as they pose for a team shot. Credit Randy Schiff

As the annual state tournament approaches, both the boys and girls varsity basketball teams are working hard and improving in the gym each day for any challenges that may come their way. Between a mid-season shut down due to a coronavirus outbreak within the Upper School and a few game cancellations, the teams are focused on staying healthy and preparing for upcoming games against other strong opponents.

The girls team has won five games so far this season, with only one loss against Eagles Landing Christian Academy (ELCA). The boys had a slower start, but they are now on a three-game winning streak. 

Varsity boys head coach Tray Malloy believes that even though the team has struggled, their losses have allowed them to grow stronger as a team.

“We have had several games that could have gone either way in which we have fallen just a little short of getting the win,” said Malloy. “Those are all hard games because the team prepares so hard and you know you are right there and want it so much.”

Like Malloy, Katie Argall, varsity girls head coach, believes that even though the girls suffered a loss against ELCA, it was a much-needed learning experience.

“We were up 18 and just couldn’t hit shots down the stretch,” said Argall. “It taught us a lot but we definitely know we can beat this team and win this one back.”

Besides learning from their losses, both teams have had to learn how to play their sport amid a global pandemic. While coronavirus and the ongoing pandemic have changed their practices, preparation, and games, both teams are adapting and working hard to support each other and give it their all on the court. 

“The season has been a learning process in so many ways,” said Malloy. “It has been a process where we have learned how to support one another as well as play during a pandemic. It has been a process of learning who we are as a team.”

Players have noted that, due to the virus, many necessary changes have been made to keep the teams healthy and safe. 

“Almost everything about the sport has changed in one way or another,” said varsity player junior Kamden Coleman “Just a couple of these things include practicing in masks, socially distanced chairs on the bench, COVID protocols of other schools, and potentially losing players hours before a game due to contact tracing.”

On top of the COVID protocols and safety adjustments, players and coaches had to postpone games and practices during a two-week quarantine period. The girls team even went 43 days between games at one point in their season. 

As frustrating as the cancellations and quarantine periods may be for the teams, they stayed positive throughout the season. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, both teams have used the pandemic as a reminder to always give it their best effort and be grateful for the opportunities given. 

The hardest part is nothing is guaranteed,” said Argall. “Our motto has been ‘no tomorrow’ because it could literally all be shut down at any point.” 

Assuming the state playoffs run as normally scheduled, both the girls and boys teams will prepare for the region tournament and then the first round of state playoffs, which begin on Feb. 23. 

“We are playing and practicing like a team preparing for a go at the state tournament, as that is our team goal this year,” said junior Taylor Greaves. “It would be a huge deal, especially for our seniors, to get into the state tournament considering how far the team has come in the past couple years.”

Both teams are in challenging regions, so before they look ahead to state they are focusing on the upcoming region tournament. The first and fourthranked teams in AAA are in the same region as the varsity boys team, and four of the best teams in AAA are in the same region as the varsity girls team. The challenging regions, however, will get both teams ready for the conference and state tournament. 

Through many adversities, both teams have still managed to have fun on and off the court this season. 

“My favorite moment so far was our bus ride on the way back from our Sandy Creek game,” said Greaves. “We had the speaker blasting music and everyone was having a great time, which made me appreciate the special bond we all have. I don’t think we would be nearly as good of a team without the family bond we have built.”

Like the varsity girls team, the boys team has also managed to find fun amid a challenging season of unknowns. While the team loves to win, both players and coaches agree that it is the little moments that truly bring the team together. 

“My favorite moment so far has been watching these guys grow through adversity,” said Malloy. “There have been lots of small, fun situations I could name, but overall it is the process that has been my favorite.”