Prep Athletes & Coaches Wait & Hope With Hoops On Hold

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- This weekend was supposed to be the culmination of the South Dakota winter sports season, with the five state basketball tournaments in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Aberdeen.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to that, with athletes and coaches keeping hope alive that the games will resume.

A week of noise and March Madness for preps across the state of South Dakota has been replaced with silence.

"With all the news that was going on we had an idea that something might be happening. We just had a team meeting after practice (last week) and just talked about the potential scenarios. There is a possibility of us playing this down the road. But also the reality of that this might be our last practice." O'Gorman Girl's Basketball Coach Kent Kolsrud says.

"As far as how they handle it, it was about as good as I could imagine. I think the right decisions were made. However, obviously you feel for the kids right now." Roosevelt Boy's Basketball Coach Mitch Begeman says.

The Premier Center in Sioux Falls, along with the Rushmore Activities Center in Rapid City, Donald Young Center in Spearfish, and the Barnett Center in Aberdeen, sit empty with the six state basketball tournaments on hold.

And with social distancing being encouraged, coaches and athletes can do little more than sit at home.

"If I'd imagine I would say a lot of our kids right now are probably on the old Nintendo or the X-Box or whatever you can play these days. A lot of kids, you know, are probably on social media, scrolling through it a hundred times a day, just kind of thinking what if? What if we get another opportunity to play? And what if we don't?" Begeman says.

Washington girls head coach Jamie Parish has encouraged his team to spend time with their families and be patient.

"To go from that adrenaline rush that you have as a coach and as a player to putting the brakes on is really hard. You know the first couple nights it was, not out of disappoint, but it was hard to sleep. We handle it a lot the way we do with an injury. If you're not healthy, you can't help us anyway. If people aren't going to come out of this healthy, we can't go through this process anyway." Parish says.

And yet all the coaches we spoke to are holding out hope that there will be a week in which the sounds of basketball replace the quiet.

"We just would like to get some closure, some finality. If that happens we'll be thrilled for the opportunity. If not we're certainly going to understand the circumstances that led up to it." Kolsrud says.

Tomorrow night on Dakota News Now at 6 and 10 we'll explore whether athletes across the state will get that opportunity in the form of a rescheduled tournament, and what it might take to make that happen.