Derby girls basketball devastated by abrupt end to title bid

Mya Studyvin

Confident in their abilities, the Derby girls varsity basketball team was aiming high. They had their sights set on a Class 6A title.

In the quarterfinal round on Wednesday against Shawnee Mission Northwest at Koch Arena, the Panthers persevered through a tough double overtime game, winning 44-39.

They were on their way. They had a chance for a title.

“It was a good feeling to see my team go out there and just fight through,” junior Derryana Cobbins said. “We worked so hard to get to this point you know, we were excited.”

But on Thursday at 8:34 p.m, as the players settled down in anticipation of their second day of the state tournament, the Kansas State High School Activities Association posted a message on Twitter that devastated them all.

“After the conclusion of the quarterfinal round, the 2020 KSHSAA State Basketball Tournament will be canceled,” the KSHSAA tweet read. “Given the escalating concerns regarding COVID-19, the best decision for the safety of the student-athletes and spectators was to cancel the remainder of this championship tournament.”

The decision not only sparked controversy among students, student athletes and adults on Twitter, but it ended the basketball season.

And ended the Panthers’ chance to win the 2020 state title.

“It’s really tough,” freshman Addy Brown said. “I feel for our seniors right now. It’s just hard… this year, I really think we could have done it.”

Many of the teams players, including all four seniors — Heather Mills, Sadie Svymbersky, Blaize Grunden and Sydney Nilles — wrote their own messages on Twitter to express their feelings after KSHSAA’s decision.

“I can’t believe I played my last high school basketball game Wednesday and I didn’t even know it,” Mills wrote. “I know what we were capable of… I’m so sad we couldn’t finish it out.”

COVID-19, more commonly referred to as the coronavirus, has caused the cancellation of many sport events, including the NCAA Tournament and the remainder of Major League Baseball’s spring training. 

But no one expected this.

“I have mixed emotions about it,” Nilles said. “I do believe that, yes, this is a huge health concern and we do need to protect everyone’s health, but it really does suck that the team has worked for four to five months and we can’t even finish two games.”

Brown added: “I think there were other options. We could have maybe postponed it or played both games (Friday), no fans… I just don’t think it’s fair to the seniors or any of the teams.”