PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — High school basketball coaches say enthusiasm is at an all-time high.
“They’re all here early, they want to get in here,” said Metamora coach Danny Grieves. “They love it when they were wore out from basketball. They want that feeling again.”
Players want the feeling of playing prep basketball again. They’ve been practicing in masks for months and realize they may have to do it just to have some semblance of a season his winter.
“Anything we can do to play basketball, I’ll take it. Even if I have to wear a mask,” said Brimfield senior Haley Wallace. “I’m hopeful we get to play, even if we have to wear a mask. I think we’d be willing to do it.”
The Illinois High School Association has submitted winter sports guidelines to the Illinois Department of Public Health for state approval. Those guidelines likely include masks, social distancing and games without fans in the stands.
“I haven’t heard one kid say, ‘Oh man, I’m mot going to do that or I would never do that,'” said Princeville basketball coach Jeff Kratzer. “I think everyone is in consensus that they would do whatever to play.”
Perhaps no school in the state wants a basketball season more than Roanoke-Benson. In March, the Rockets were in Peoria just hours away from making their first state tournament appearance since 1977 when the state finals were canceled due to the COVID 19 outbreak.
The current players can hardly wait to start another season.
“Since we were canceled, every day I’ve been in the weight room and practicing,” said R-B senior Luke Braman. “I just want to come back for my last season.”
R-B coach Abe Zeller knows this season could be bumpy with games rescheduled or canceled due to COVID-19 outbreaks. But he just wants a season to be played.
“I think you just have to go with the flow whatever you’re allowed to do in this situation with COVID,” Zeller said. “Guys have to be happy with whatever they can get. I know we are.”
The IHSA is hoping to announce winter sports protocols on Oct. 28.