It’s been over a year since the Dons played their last basketball game, and many thought that this year might be a no-go due to COVID-19. But as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and things began to open up, a real basketball season became more and more of a possibility, and finally on April 10th, almost a year and a half since the last Dons basketball game, the boys were able to suit up against St. Bonaventure High School.
The Dons boys varsity basketball teams have been practicing since March when school was able to return and were doing zoom calls every day since the beginning of the school year. All the student-athletes were hoping that they would get a chance to play, especially the Seniors, who worried that they would not be able to get their final season due to the pandemic. But luckily, Covid cases continued to drop, and soon enough, all sports were able to return to play!
Although many sports were hit hard with tons of new rules and restrictions, basketball was hit almost the hardest of all sports. It is an inside and contact sport, which caused it to take the longest out of all the sports to return. Basketball players are required to test at least 2 times a week and are told to wear a mask in practice and on the bench during games. Fans are also very limited in games: only two are allowed per player, and social distancing is a must. Another big cut was the season length, as there was no preseason, and most games are played within our Channel League. But, like all people, student-athletes, and coaches of the basketball program were able to adapt and make the best of what they had at the time.
The varsity athletes of the basketball program were extra excited about having a season, but with the new restrictions, everything felt different. One athlete I talked to said that “Without lots of fans at our game the energy feels so much different. We have to bring new energy to the game and our bench has to be loud to replace the sound of screaming fans.” Big games such as Santa Barbara Vs. San Marcos is a lot quieter than usual, but the energy is still expressed by the players on both teams, and the change in the season did not stop the Dons from trying any harder.
The Dons had a great regular season. They finished with a record of 8-5 and are 6-4 in league. Their losses have come from the very skilled St. Joseph High School, which is ranked very high in Central California, and against San Marcos, which was a very close game that went down to the wire, but eventually, the Royals were able to pull it together and beat the Dons. For the second matchup, it was all San Marcos as they won easily over the Dons. And the Dons also went 0-2 against Cabrillo High School in their back-to-back matchup. As for players, Senior Center Andrew Douglas and Senior Forward Erik Strangeburg have played tremendously this season, and are hoping to end their high school sports career on a high note. With the 4 losses in league, the Dons finished the regular season with a third seed placement in CIF playoffs, meaning that they will be plying Agoura High School on May 26th, who was a number one seed for their league. It will be a tough battle for the Dons, as they will be without one of their top players, Andrew Douglas, who will be competing with the Santa Barbara High School volleyball program in the CIF playoffs as well.
During this whole season, The dons basketball program has been following the rules and trying to think positive. Although this season is different, the fact that it is going on is so good for all student-athletes. Nobody thought we would be at the point we are, and that is all thanks to those who have stayed safe and done their roles in these troubling times. All of those who are involved in sports thank everyone who has followed the rules and stayed safe because it gave them their season!
[Image Credit: Ixaka Craviotto-Velasco]