Chieftains go hoopless week before vacation
Twas the week before Christmas and all through Tonganoxie not a Chieftain was hooping.
Thanks to winter weather and sketchy driving conditions, school in Tonganoxie was canceled twice this past week — on Dec. 16 and 19 — which meant originally scheduled Tonganoxie High basketball contests on those dates with Perry-Lecompton and Santa Fe Trail were called off as well.
As far as the THS players were concerned, they would rather get lumps of coal in their stockings than not play basketball. Tonganoxie boys basketball coach Shawn Phillips and girls coach Randy Kraft said the players were very disappointed to learn the games wouldn’t be played.
“They want to play,” Kraft said. “They get pumped up, ready for a certain opponent, and then it gets canceled, then you gear up for another one and you don’t get to play it — that’s kind of hard on them, mentally.”
Phillips said his team was looking forward to both games, especially a home showdown with Perry-Lecompton, a team regarded as one of the top squads in the Kaw Valley League this season.
“They were itching,” Phillips said of his players. “I got several phone calls each morning: ‘Is there any way we can still play?’”
But they couldn’t. Policy states that if a district’s classes are canceled, the school can’t play that day. Phillips said his players weren’t big fans of the rule.
“Friday was very frustrating because Santa Fe Trail was in school and we’re not,” Phillips said. “Even though the major highways were perfectly fine, the back roads, being a small town with gravel roads, to keep our kids safe we end up not having school — so they were frustrated with that.”
Kraft said the girls were disappointed, but more understanding about the rules, and he looked on the bright side of the situation.
“It’s a little frustrating, but on the other hand, all year long we’re preparing for teams and it’s not going to hurt us any when we get ready to prepare for them again,” Kraft said of game-planning for PLHS and SFTHS, only to have the games postponed.
Phillips, too, said his team spent a great deal of practice time preparing for their would-be opponents, and said they would have done things much differently if they knew they weren’t going to be playing that week.
“Generally, when you have long stretches of time off you try to implement new things, and go back and try to reemphasize some of the things you started with,” he said.
Kraft said the most difficult part of the situation would come in January when the games will be added to an already busy slate.
“We’re used to playing 14, 15 games after Christmas, and now we’re going to have to play 17,” said Kraft, who stated he had seen plenty of cancellations before, but never back-to-back. “That’s probably the thing that concerns me the most, is having to lump all those games together.”
The Chieftains will return to action Jan. 6 in a makeup date with Perry-Lecompton at home. The road games with SFTHS will be played Jan. 30 near Carbondale.