PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The Notre Dame High School basketball team is back at full strength.
Now the Irish just want a season to prove it.
Notre Dame restarted basketball practice Thursday with a full roster two months after two top players left the team seeking a transfer. With the Illinois High School season in doubt, brothers Noah and Nelson Reynolds announced they were leaving Notre Dame in November to transfer to a school in Indiana where high school basketball was being played.
However, the Reynolds transfer to Merrillville High School was denied by the Indiana High School Sports Association. The brothers returned to Peoria, re-enrolled at Notre Dame and were on the floor for practice Thursday.
“This is home. Coach (Tom) Lacher is home, coach (Jason) Whalen is home. It’s always comfortable to be home with my brothers,” Noah Reynolds said. “These guys are family to me It’s a great feeling.”
Basketball is still considered a high-risk sport by the Illinois Department of Public health and has not been given the green light to begin competition. The hoops season was scheduled to start in November but with COVID-19 cases in Illinois surging and the holidays approaching, Governor JB Pritzker placed the state in Tier 3 Mitigations which put high school sports on hold.
Counties in central Illinois improved from Tier 3 to Tier 1 last weekend opening the door for high school sports to resume. Low-and-medium-risk sports such as swimming, gymnastics, bowling, volleyball and soccer will be allowed to compete soon.
However, basketball teams can only practice and hold intra-team scrimmages. Competition is not allowed for high-risk sports yet.
Nonetheless, the Irish, who were the top ranked team in the Class 3A state rankings last March when the season was canceled at the onset of the pandemic, were just glad to be back on the floor together again. Especially the Reynolds boys.
“They are ready to go. They’re glad to be back with their friends, their friends are glad to have them back,” said Notre Dame coach Tom Lacher. “And I’m kind of glad to have them back , too.”