By Tony Hooker
I met up with Villa Grove-Heritage High School boys basketball coach Corey White to discuss this year’s season.
What was the first thought that went through your head when you heard that you were going to have a season? Any panic that you would have to put together a plan so quickly?
My first thought was that I was excited for the kids because the kids have had so much taken away over the last few months that they needed something like this for their emotional well-being. At first they stated that we would need 12 practices before playing a game so there was not a lot of panic because that is the normal amount of time we have before playing. Then it changed to 7 practices so a little bit of panic set in because we had a team contact us about playing the first day we were able to and we still had players on quarantine. The game fell through so I feel much better about how we are prepared for our first game.
What are your expectations for this season, since there is no postseason?
We still have a chance to win a conference championship so that will be one of our goals for this season. The main expectation is that we can play all of our scheduled games without an interruption. We want to give the boys the best season under the circumstances.
How has your team responded to the circumstances surrounding the season?
The team is just excited to play. They understand the protocols that are in place and they may not agree with all of them, but they are more than willing to do them to be able to play. Once we got everyone back off of quarantine, practices picked up intensity. They are hungry and ready to play.
What have been some unexpected challenges, and how has your team faced them?
One of the unexpected challenges was figuring out the end of the season when basketball overlaps with football. The boys that play both have to get so many football practices in before they play, but we still have the ability to play a week and a half of games. I believe we came to a good compromise so the players can do both and be ready for football in time as well as play the last couple of games of the season. The other challenge is constantly not knowing whether we will have everyone on a daily basis. We have had multiple players that have had to quarantine along with some that had started jobs. It has been an adjustment for everyone.
Conversely, have there been any good surprises to come out of the way this season has been put together?
I believe that our practices have been more focused and intense. The players now have that feeling that it could be taken away at any moment so they do not want to waste any time.
Who are your key returnees?
Jake Eversole, Logan Nohren, Issac Mahoe, Carson Howard, Nick Coffin
Who are key newcomers?
Ezra Ely, Jack Benschneider, Daelin Price
Is there anything you wish to add?
It is unfortunate that we cannot play a full season because we wanted to get our third 20 win season in a row. We also felt like we had a great shot at a regional title. I just appreciate the fact that we get to play because it allows us to get some closure for the Seniors, but also closure for the program since this appears to be the last year of the co-op for basketball. The strides we have taken with the program needed to have the appropriate ending, and even though it is not exactly how we might envision it, I look forward to going through this season with these players.