MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — On March 10th, St. Albans claimed their first regional championship since 2004 with a win at Woodrow Wilson. The Red Dragons were geared up to face defending champion University in the Class AAA state quarterfinals on Wednesday.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed the entire boys basketball postseason and it remains to be seen if the Red Dragons and 31 other boys teams can resume play.
“It is my job as a coach to keep the world in perspective for these kids,” England said. “But at the same time, you can’t deny the pain some of them are going through. They have worked hard for it.”
What makes the delay tougher is that no teams can hold any type of organized practices and school facilities are closed down. England is encouraging his players to do whatever they can to practice on their own and stay ready if games can eventually resume.
“We put more of a focus on the outdoor courts. At lot of them have access to a court at their house or at the park or something like that. We have been encouraging them to try to keep a basketball in their hands.”
England echoes similar views of his coaching colleagues that a delay, no matter how lengthy, can be overcome with a practice window and then resumption of games.
“Honestly, I don’t think anytime is too long as long as we can get our allotted practices in for safety reasons. If you have a chance to get out there and compete whether it be April, May or June and do it, then I say let’s do it.”
St. Albans exited regional play as one of the hottest teams in Class AAA, winning eight of their last nine games. England says his senior class of Braxton Good, Ethan Clay and Rodney Toler is a group that set the tone for a quick three-year turnaround. They won just two games during their freshman seasons.
“You’ve got to have three seniors that are committed and have the buy-in and are good people and good students to be able to turn the culture around. It doesn’t happen without those guys.”
If the final chapter of the season has already been written for the Red Dragons, England says their regional win at Beckley will stand as a benchmark in building the program.
“In a historic venue against a historic program, it was special. We are going to have great memories from that and hopefully more to make.”