cancelled tournament

A Charleston Coliseum usher looks out at empty seats after the Parkersburg Catholic-Tucker County game and the cancellation of the rest of the girls basketball tournament.

Wide-eyed Jayda Allie was startled by the question.

Do you realize that you just finished playing one of the few basketball games that is going on in the entire country right now?

That’s when the Cabell Midland High School star ninth-grader’s eyes widened a little further.

“Really?” said Jayda. “That’s crazy.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

Sports was indeed a world gone crazy Thursday as every imaginable sporting event — both present and future — was either canceled outright or placed on indefinite hold.

But a ninth-grader’s world and scope isn’t quite that large.

“It makes me happy,” smiled Jayda with a bubbly voice. “I’m excited that we got to play and not be shut down.”

Young Jayda found the silver lining.

Although Cabell Midland’s youthful team lost to University 56-43 in the girls basketball state tournament Thursday afternoon at the Charleston Coliseum, at least she got to play.

That was a better fate than thousands of other basketball players suffered Thursday due to the unanticipated onslaught of fear concerning the coronavirus.

Every level of basketball was abruptly affected from NBA to college to high school.

The Marshall University women’s team was told minutes before taking the floor in the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, in the Conference USA tournament that the season was over.

The Thundering Herd men’s team was supposed to play Louisiana Tech at 10 p.m. Thursday but received word the tournament had been postponed indefinitely.

When Marshall head coach Danny D’Antoni was asked via text message if the Herd would continue practicing in case the tournament was completed at some point in time, he answered, “Not sure yet what is going to happen.”

As it turned out, Conference USA — like every other conference in America — canceled its postseason tournament. It wasn’t long until the NCAA followed suit with a cancellation of its ultra-popular national tournament.

I was hoping it was merely some “Chicken Little” nonsense, but unfortunately it turned out to be true.

The basketball sky really is falling.

Gov. Jim Justice ultimately made the final call on the state high school girls basketball tournament. That was nothing short of ironic considering Justice coaches the Greenbrier East girls team and effectively was pulling the plug on his own squad.

But that’s what a leader does in troubled times. That’s why everybody better buckle up tight, because these are as troubled of times as we’ve ever seen.

Everything sports-related is either canceled or postponed indefinitely. That’s what we learned Thursday as the future schedule changed every few minutes.

“I’m really wondering what they’re going to do next week with the boys,” said Matt Adkins, the Cabell Midland girls coach after the game. “Is it going to be parents only or players only?

“Just think of the millions of dollars the NCAA is going to lose. They cancelled the CBI and the NIT. I’ve never seen anything like. This is really odd.”

It’s the Armageddon of the sports world.

Yet, in our one little corner of the globe, there were still some smiles, still some joy.

“I was surprised by what you told Jayda,” said Adkins, referring to the Knights playing one of the very few games of the day. “It’s pretty cool.”

It certainly beats the alternative.

So, thanks for the smile, Jayda.

I needed it because this is the ultimate “March Madness.”