Despite missing key players due to Maryville football’s title run, Maryville boys basketball was hoping to play in its first action of the 2020-21 season starting Dec.1 at the 92nd Annual Savannah Invitational.
The Spoofhounds have been in full practice mode for the past three weeks, but a lot of the starting five has been out because they also compete on the football team, which is set to compete in the MSHSAA Class 3 Championship Dec. 7 against Blair Oaks.
As of the week starting Nov. 23, this is the third group of boys who have had to miss out on practice because of either having COVID-19 or being in close contact with someone infected by the virus.
The ’Hounds were set to start their season against Hogan Prep in the first round of the Savannah Invitational Dec. 1.
“If the tournament started today, and I needed to fill a varsity team, I would only be able to choose from five to six freshmen and two to three sophomores,” Maryville coach Matt Stoecklein said Nov. 24
It’d be an easy fix if the kids still playing football could play basketball as well, but they aren’t able to do that. With many kids out due to COVID-19, once they are cleared to come back to school, they have to go through two weeks of running before they even step back onto the court.
With the team trying to get as much practice in as it can before the opening tipoff, now slated for Dec. 11 against Jefferson, Stoecklein said he may only have seven kids show up to practice one day and 14 the next, depending on who is out because of COVID-19.
“With the number of cases growing each day, it is tough to say what is going to happen,” Stoecklein said about the recent surge in cases across Nodaway County. “I have told my players if they feel even slightly sick, or someone at home is sick, to just stay at home because there is not much else we can do.”
To provide safety for the players and coaches, there are talks of allowing two tickets per player for fans to come to the game. There have also been talks that no fans will be allowed for extra precaution.
Roster sizes for the freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams are also being cut down to lower numbers, including not all of the athletes being able to travel to away games because of social distancing guidelines. Freshmen will have a maximum of 12 players, and junior varsity and varsity will both be limited to 10 players.
After football’s championship, regardless of the outcome, that makes Stoecklein’s job easier because he will have five players returning that started at some point last season.
The team will also be short on practice time since this will essentially be the first time the Spoofhounds are stepping onto the court as a team this year. They would be able to get one or two practices in before leaving for this tournament.
“This year has been a lot different because, usually, a lot of the guys will play in 15-20 games during the summer and that did not happen this year,” Stoecklein said. “I am confident that they will be ready to play once they return, but it is also difficult since they haven’t been on the court for a while.”
As for the other teams that were supposed to participate in the tournament, Kearney was on the court with its full team for the past three weeks. Savannah has been hit-or-miss for when it has been able to practice. Hogan Prep, which would have been the team the Spoofhounds faced first, hardly had any time on the court either.
“I am hoping to be able to place my team on the court and let them get out and compete,” Stoecklein said. “Even with little practice time, I feel they will be able to hold their own because many of the guys are returners.”