POPLARVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - The 2019-20 Pearl River men’s basketball team will live on as one of the greatest teams in junior college basketball - regardless of what the Selection committee said about them being in Region 23.
Unfortunately, they won’t get to cement their legacy with a national championship.
After the original postponement of the national tournament last Thursday, head coach Chris Oney told his team that there was a 99 percent chance that nothing would change, that their magical season could be over. Just a week after being selected as the number one seed in NJCAA's 73rd tournament, the Pearl River Wildcats are done.
From highlight reel dunks to several close, hard-fought victories to keep their win streak alive, this Wildcat team was unlike any other before their time.
Despite capturing the MACJC crown, winning Region 23 for the second straight season, and being the first-ever MACJC team to enter the tournament unbeaten, Coach Oney says sometimes in life you can do everything right and still not get the results you want.
“I love to teach as much as anybody, but I do think it was the right decision,” Oney told WLOX. “We don’t focus too much on what could have happened or what might have happened. We’re going to talk more about what did happen. I think the things that we were able to achieve and experience far outweigh the week. It’s just one of those things that life put in front of us, so we just have to deal with it and find the good out of it.”
To further rub salt into the wound, the NJCAA has also cancelled all spring sports competition for the remainder of the academic year.
The Association originally suspended spring athletics from Saturday to April third, but after the CDC recommended that gatherings of 50 people or more in the United States be canceled or postponed for up to eight weeks because of the coronavirus, the NJCAA made the tough call of shutting down the entire spring season.
No spring student-athlete will lose a year of eligibility, while all on and off-campus recruiting will stop until April 15th.