KETK – The UIL has informed every school that was still standing when the state boys basketball tournament was suspended last month, and then ultimately canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that they will all receive “UIL State Championships” trophies and medals.
That includes three teams from our Piney Woods in LaPoynor, Martin’s Mill, and Shelbyville.
But, the UIL will not crown or recognize any of the remaining teams as a State Champion.
Below is the organization’s statement:
“While the UIL will not be crowning UIL Boys Basketball State champions this year, each remaining team will be recognized with a virtual awards presentation and will be receiving a UIL trophy with “UIL State Championships” inscription, medals and some additional items to help commemorate their accomplishment.”University Interscholastic League
However, the UIL is leaving it up to each respective school and its community to celebrate its team’s achievement as they wish. They are not opposed to schools deciding to call themselves state champions or co-champions.
LaPoynor has mutually agreed with Slidell, the team they would have faced in the 1A state finals, for both programs to recognize themselves as state champs. Both plan to put a 2020 state champion banner in their gymnasium.
LaPoynor and Slidell are scheduled to play each other next season on Nov. 14 in Lipan.
Martin’s Mill, and Shelbyville have also come to an agreement with San Saba, and Gruver, for all four programs to consider themselves 2A co-state champions.
UIL officials were hopeful to resume the tournament in mid-May. But those plans were dashed when Governor Greg Abbott ordered all schools to remain closed for the rest of the school year.
The UIL will be sending school districts a link to the virtual awards ceremonies, once those are scheduled, “So that teams can share with their communities and celebrate how they would like,” added a UIL spokesperson.
The Flyers actually got to take the court at the Alamodome in San Antonio on March 12. LaPoynor beat Nazareth 63-53 in the 1A state semis to clinch a spot in the title game.
The Flyers were the top ranked team in Class 1A since late December, and finished the season 34-3. Their last UIL title was in 1995. They have won five of them in school history.
“I’m happy the kids finally get a little bit of closure. They get the recognition that they should get. Maybe not all the recognition they should get had we got to play in San Antonio, had we got to play the state championship game. We still feel very fortunate that we’re Co-Champions with Slidell. And we’re okay to accept that because, you know, these are very unforeseen circumstances. We understand that, you know, out of anybody’s control,” said Flyers head coach Dean Nuckolls.
In Class 2A, the Martin’s Mill Mustangs had been set to play San Saba in the state semis on March 13, the day after the original postponement.
At 39-0, this number-one ranked Mustang squad was the only undefeated team left in the entire state of Texas. Martin’s Mill had beaten 14-ranked teams and three state tournament teams along the way.
Just like LaPoynor, their head coach Jake Bell is happy that his group will be recognized for its achievements.
“I don’t think a trophy or a medal can replace those memories on the court,” said Bell.
“But we have a lot of memories to look back on to replace this incident. So no our kids our warriors. They are very deserving. It’s not ideal, but this is not an ideal circumstance. I’m just glad that you know at some point you know we could look back and just appreciate everything they’ve done for our school and our community. To honor this team, honor these kids, years of hard work into this. So I’m just most proud of them.”
The Shelbyville Dragons were on a 14-game winning streak dating back to January. The Dragons who had won the 2019 title, finish the year at 36-3.
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