Bill Bradley instantly knew what he wanted for Christmas.
“I’d like to have more than eight girls at practice,” Ashland’s girls basketball coach said.
Ashland senior Carley Cullop desires something more.
“I’d love to have a senior season,” she said.
Bradley and Cullop are hardly unique in their holiday wishes. Local teams have been practicing since Dec. 14, with seasons starting — hopefully — today.
“We have something to do now,” West Carter boys coach Jeremy Webb said. “A couple weeks ago, it was looking pretty grim in regard to actually getting to play basketball.”
It’s not news that the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out summer team camps – the time players bonded and learned offenses and defenses when wins and losses didn’t matter as much. Instead, Kittens, Comets and the 16th Region’s other 30 teams are learning strategies now.
Webb sees some good in elongated practice time; he said it usually takes a few regular season games for football players to round into basketball form.
“We will have three really good weeks … three and a half weeks of practice time with our entire basketball team,” Webb said. “To have that prior to playing our first game is something we as basketball coaches don’t get a whole lot of; we’re always playing off the success of the football team.” (The Comets reached the Class 2A semifinals this year.)
If you could humanize inanimate objects – playbooks – you might find them fasting, not feasting.
“We’re not getting very elaborate, very complex,” East Carter boys coach Brandon Baker said. “We’re keeping things very simple.”
Like others, Raceland girls coach Ron Keeton said his list of offenses and defenses will be thin – at first.
“I’m not going to shortchange them as far as feeling comfortable with being able to put in some things that we feel like can be effective for them,” Keeton said. “I feel confident about our team being able to digest a bigger serving of offensive sets because of their level of intelligence and our senior leadership.”
The list of missing Kittens has been lengthy – three tested positive for COVID-19, junior Mikayla Martin tore an ACL over the summer and will be out until at least February and freshman Jaiden Gulley separated a shoulder.
The Kittens wear masks on the court – an idea former Ashland star and University of Louisville junior Mykasa Robinson shared.
Wrestling, swimming and diving are also winter sports. The KHSAA limited teams to 15 meets beginning today, with no more than three per week. The postseason begins March 15.
Boyd County is scheduled to begin its season with a four-team meet today at Prestonsburg with the Blackcats, Hazard and Pikeville. Lions coach Clayton McClelland said adjusting to shifts in practice times and training routines are the biggest challenges.
Ashland coach Butch Scarberry said the Matcats’ season won’t start until Jan. 23 at the earliest.
“The wrestling community is kind of cautious,” Scarberry said. “(Coaches) don’t want to schedule and then cancel it and reschedule.”
With all the fluidity and uncertainty, Webb offered 27 cups – all running over – of perspective.
“I want my wife (Stephanie) and kids (sons Nathan, 13, and Nicholas, 8) to have a great Christmas,” he said.