The only sound you’ll hear inside the Kickapoo gym these days is the ticking clock on the wall.
In a normal year, that clock would be drowned out by the Chiefs preparing for the biggest game of their season.
“We would’ve had a shoot-around this morning, we would’ve had a team meal,” said Head Coach Mitch McHenry. “We would’ve had lunch, met back up here to go through some final preparations and take a bus over to JQH and get ready for a semifinal game.”
Instead, on the same day the Chiefs would be playing in the final four, the cancellation has left their gym sitting empty like thousands of others across the country.
“It was kind of like a bad dream, it didn’t seem real,” said senior Elijah Bridgers.
Roughly 36 hours after beating Rock Bridge in the Class 5 quarterfinals, the Chiefs found out their season was over.
“It’s like its getting worse every day as we get closer to the day we’re supposed to play, and now it’s Friday, game-day it hurts a little bit,” said junior Anton Brookshire.
It’s been especially tough for the Chiefs’ seniors. Missing the chance to play at state means missing their LAST chance to play at state.
“Just kind of the way things ended was strange and hard to wrap your mind around that,” said senior Micah McIntire.
“I would’ve rather have played and lost than have ended that early and ended on a [win], but I’m glad we got that [win].”
At least, the quarterfinal win over Rock Bridge sends the seniors off on a high note.
“For our seven seniors that have really poured a lot into this program, for that to be their last memory is pretty special,” McHenry said.
It’s a special memory from a special season.
Now those seniors want next year’s team to use this week as its driving force.
“Remember the hurt that you felt when you found out we couldn’t play and use that to fuel you to go further next year,” McIntire said.
Like the hands on the gym clock, maybe this is just the start of a full-circle trip to next year’s final four.