HEATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — When COVID-19 rendered an entire varsity team’s ineligible to play, the junior varsity team stepped up and saved the day.
The varsity girls basketball team at Hamilton High School was scheduled to play Coopersville Wednesday. This week, the district learned that one person within the HHS varsity program tested positive for COVID-19.
Hamilton Community Schools Athletic Director Jordan Bandstra says the positive test meant every varsity player and coach would have to quarantine through Thursday and miss the game.
“Our options were to either forfeit and be done, for a group that worked pretty hard and has had a very successful year, or try to prepare our JV team to play,” Bandstra said.
After a meeting with other Hamilton officials, Bandstra says they began training the JV girls to take the court.
“A lot of girls were super nervous. Playing varsity is kind of scary, but we were all so excited,” JV forward Kellie Brower said.
Brower says while the game was an opportunity to keep the varsity team in the Division 2 bracket, it was also a second chance for the JV team, which had to forfeit their final game last week due to issues related to COVID-19.
“I was kind of shaking while playing, but once we got in the lead, I was like ‘OK, let’s go!'” JV point guard Jessica Berens said.
Bandstra says the girls were able to sink a few shots early in the game. He says they were able to build a lead in the second half of the game. They finished the game 38-25.
“There was a lot of emotions. Our varsity team is going to be so happy. We gave them another chance to play,” Berens said of her reaction to the score.
Bandstra says the game played at a much faster pace than the JV girls were accustomed to, but they stayed the course and were able to pull off the win.
“I just want them to know they did their community proud and they did their program and their school proud and for that, I thank them for the extra few days they gave us and the work they put in,” Bandstra said.
The JV girls say the game has made them excited for their varsity season next year.
“I’m really excited for next year, all of our chemistry as a team. We pushed through this together and we did this together. It’s really cool,” Brower said.
The varsity team is now out of quarantine. The team will be back on the court Friday night in the district final to take on West Catholic.