The Ashland boys’ basketball team was in the midst of a special season when it was unexpectedly ripped away from them. Now, like many of the rest of us, they’re sitting at home, left with nothing to do but wonder about what might have been.
The high school basketball team was on a quest to become Kentucky’s first undefeated state champion since 1948. They’d already earned a 33-0 record. All that remained on their to-do list was win the state tournament. Instead, the KHSAA has postponed its post-season due to coronavirus concerns. As time goes on, the eventual cancellation of the boys (and girls) Sweet Sixteen feels imminent.
That’s a hard pill to swallow for the basketball team, but they’re finding other ways to continue to make headlines. The Tomcats are now being featured by Sports Illustrated in an article titled “‘We Would Have Won It’: Ashland High School’s Special Season Left in Limbo,” written by SI’s Pat Forde.
Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde is in town today for a feature on the 33-0 and in limbo Tomcats pic.twitter.com/gLwHDocoHb
— Zack Klemme (@zklemmeADI) March 19, 2020
According to one quote from the article, “Ashland is all about God, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Ashland Tomcats—and not necessarily in that order.” The energy surrounding this season’s team – and Forde’s article – reflected that.
“Out in the state” of Kentucky, there is a general cynicism toward teams from Eastern Kentucky that pile up gaudy records against relatively light competition. There tends to be a comeuppance when those squads meet up with athletic teams from Louisville, Lexington or the Northern Kentucky towns that are just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Mountain basketball has its own lyrical lore, but much of it is dated.
The Tomcats were dead set on changing that.
Although they won’t get that chance, the abrupt ending to this season can still serve as a teachable moment to the program’s players.
“This is a process of understanding what patience means, and what perspective means. These kids don’t know this yet, but sometimes learning how to deal with disappointment, with uncontrollable circumstances, can be the most important lesson they learn,” Ashland Coach Jason Mays says in the article. “We told them, ‘We don’t have victims in our program. You’re not a victim in this. You just have to learn to deal with this.’ “
You can read the rest of the feature story by clicking here. You won’t regret it.