SOUTHERN COLORADO — On Thursday night after their win against McClave, Springfield senior post player Julia Mondragon said her and her team would be 'devasted' if they could not compete in the state tournament moving forward.
This was the first time in 38 year the Longhorns had gotten this far in the 1A girl's basketball playoffs.
Well on late Thursday night. the most devastating thing did happen, as CHSAA canceled the all state basketball tournament for this weekend. The decision ended the title hopes for five local teams in the Classical Academy, St. Mary's, Pueblo West, Springfield and Cotopaxi, leaving the high school athletes walking up to some tough news and plenty of emotion.
"There was a lot of tears," explained St. Mary's girl's basketball head coach Mike Burkett.
"I still haven't processed that the game is canceled. Like I can't finish out my senior year," explained TCA senior guard Micah Lamberth. "It was the most heartbreaking thing i heard this year."
"There was never the idea, really the thought we were not going to play," added Pueblo West senior guard Taylor Harris. "Once other states like Nebraska and Texas started canceling there high school tournament, that is when I wasn't very hopeful."
But CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green explains, the decision was out of their control.
"Unless someone told us, or that we had some venue changes, or some venue cancellations, we were going to go status quo," said Blanford-Green. "But we spent the whole day yesterday trying to convince some of our sites that we should keep going. It was tough decision, but when you weigh cost verse benefit, the benefit of making those decisions was in the best interest of our students, our communities, our workers, our officials, our staff, our volunteers. It is about protecting everyone that has something to do with that tournament."
And even with the bad news, these 18 year olds still see the big picture.
"This happened and we can't do anything about it," explained TCA senior forward Kade Walker. "All we can do it just move past it."
Even Harris, who was supposed to play the Titans on Friday, agreed, "We can't feel sorry for ourselves. People are losing jobs, people are dying from this and getting sick from it."
Yet the memories, hard work and even ending from this season, will never be forgotten.
"In our eyes we where successful with what we did for the school," said Lamberth.
Adding Walker, "We are walking out with a heads held high, we left a legacy."
"Coming into the season, no one thought we would make the final four or make it to the title game," smiled Harris.
Even the longtime coach Burkett is sad this season, his 43rd in his career, is over. "It may see anti-climatic to some. When you are working with these girls day-in and day-out And what they put into things, you like them to get some recognition for it."