Short-handed Poca cancels season

Due to a lack of players, the Poca girls basketball team has cancelled the rest of its season.The Dots were going with seven players, but after recent injuries left Poca with just five or six, the Putnam County Board of Education sent a directive to the school to cancel the remainder of the season.Poca principal Vic Donalson backed the decision and broke the news to coaches and players."It's extremely disappointing," Dots athletic director Allen Osborne said. "We were hoping we could finish the season, but things happened that you just couldn't control. We're planning on having a team next year and we're hoping things work out. But we're really disappointed for our girls."Assistant coach Rudi Raynes-Kidder echoed Osborne's sentiments."We're very upset about it," Raynes-Kidder said. "It's devastating because last year we had the No. 1 defense in the Cardinal Conference. Throughout the summer, the girls were playing fall ball and we had numerous people come up and say we were a state tournament-caliber team as well."We had the numbers to prove it - last year was one of the best seasons Poca has had in years."Poca head coach Rudy Raynes, father of Raynes-Kidder, broke the news to his team over the weekend."I told them it was a shame that it had to happen," Rudy Raynes said. "One of them cried and they were just kind of speechless. I was pretty sad about it myself."
The Dots were 0-3 thus far, with losses to Scott, Buffalo and Nitro. The Dots lost by just two to the Bison and were leading Nitro at halftime.Adrian Cunningham, perhaps the Dots' top player, injured her knee in the first quarter of the Nitro game and was out at least three weeks, according to Raynes-Kidder. Freshman Haleigh Mace was also playing through injury and Poca was down to five players at practice last week.Despite the low numbers, Raynes-Kidder said the team was ready to battle on."Last week at practice, we were practicing with five on two days and six on the last day of practice," Raynes-Kidder said. "It's very hard to have a constructive practice when you have no defense to go up against. But up until the last day of practice, they were still working hard."Cunningham, Harley Williard and Lauren Harrison are each seniors who have apparently played their last games in high school.But despite the unfortunate end to the season, Raynes-Kidder sgaid the future of the program is in good shape.
"We'll absolutely have a team next year," Raynes-Kidder said. "There's a lot of middle school interest and things like that. Poca will have a team - there's no question about that at all."Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or
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