16th Region Russell v Ashland

Russell coach Mandy Layne talks her team Saturday, March 2, 2019, during the first round game against Ashland in the 16th Region Girls Basketball Tournament in Morehead, Ky. Photo by John Flavell / For The Daily Independent

Mandy Layne and Jason Mays didn’t coach their teams in the state girls and boys basketball tournaments in March in Lexington.

Will they see a court this summer?

Layne and the 16th Region champion Russell Lady Devils wanted to attend team camps at the University of Louisville, Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Simon Kenton High School in Independence, Ironton and the Aries League at Raceland.

Mays and the 33-0 Ashland Tomcats were planning June trips to Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green and Belmont University in Nashville.

“Right now, with everything still up in the air, we haven’t fully scheduled it yet,” Layne said in late April. “None of those things have been scheduled as of right now.”

Like others, Mays would consult with players’ families before pointing any vehicle southwestward.

“We have an environment here in Boyd County that has relatively low levels of coronavirus,” Mays said. “I would just have to weigh the risk of doing that.”

A second variable, at least for Ashland: There has been no strength training for about two months.

“We need to catch up on that,” Mays said. “I’m not 100% sure our time early in June wouldn’t be better used doing our strength and conditioning.”

Ethan Sellars will be a junior at Ashland this fall. He and his teammates have been lifting at home to stay in shape, but not shooting much if at all.

“We’re trying to stay busy and stay fit,” Sellars says. “I’m trying to gain weight right now; I’ve gained a couple pounds, but I’m getting stronger.”

Coaches use team camps to install new offenses and defenses in a no-pressure setting, but “up in the air” is where the danger lies, and like just about everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic may have squashed those journeys.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association instituted its coronavirus dead period in March and canceled all spring sports April 21.

Kaeli Ross will be a senior at Russell next season. She has an open mind about what may happen.

“If we weren’t comfortable doing it, if the parents weren’t comfortable, I’d definitely say let’s not do it,” Ross said.

If KHSAA restrictions are lifted in time for summer camps, Layne doesn’t want to rush into anything.

“My personal opinion is, I would rather wait a couple weeks and make sure it’s safe that we go,” Layne said. “Even if we did go and we got clearance from administration, there still would be some special distancing guidelines we would put in place if we could to try and protect our student-athletes.”

One of the 10 things Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear mentions in his 5 p.m. daily COVID-19 updates addresses maintaining good mental health. Sellars said his teammates stay in touch via social media, play video games and just read.

“I read my Bible every day and make sure my mental state is good,” Sellars said. “My favorite verse is in Psalms 144, verse 1 (New Living Translation) – ‘Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.’”

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