How team learned
its dream was over
Longtime Hillsboro High School boys’ basketball coach Darrel Knoll admits he sat in disbelief in the stands of Manhattan’s Bramlage Coliseum Thursday evening and secretly hoped news that would crush the team’s shot at its first state title in more than 20 years was untrue.
Just hours ago, the eighth-seeded Trojans had scored a thrilling 57-51 upset of top-seed Pratt Skyline with a rally in the fourth quarter.
By 9 a.m. Thursday, the team was back in Hillsboro resting up for the second round of tournament play set for 2:15 p.m. on Friday.
Knoll stayed behind in Manhattan to watch quarterfinals when a representative of the Kansas State High School Activities Association dropped the bombshell.
Along with many states across the country, Kansas would cut its championship short because of the threatening spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“I was highly disappointed,” said Knoll. “They worked so hard to get where they are and to not finish… I knew it was going to be hard on them.”
Knoll began firing off texts to his players in an effort to be the one who broke the bad news, but some already saw the announcement on social media.
Caleb Potucek, the team’ lone senior, learned he played his final game during the win over Pratt-Skyline from his parents.
At the time, he felt he and his teammates had been robbed.
“Our team was hitting its peak, we won our first state game and it looked really good for us,” he said. “It was pretty much taken from us, it felt like.”
Breckyn Ratzlaff said he was definitely hurt that Hillsboro’s season ended so abruptly and wondered why the championship couldn’t be put off until the threat passed.
“I through we had a good chance of winning the whole thing,” he said. “It stinks that they didn’t postpone it rather than just canceling it.”
Knoll called a team meeting this past Friday to let them air their feelings of disappointment and tell them how proud he was of them.
“We acknowledged that the decision had been made to look out for the health of everyone,” he said.
“We can be proud of how much the team improved and how good a team they are. They had a really successful season.”