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Ferndale High boys basketball season cut short

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published March 20, 2020

 Ferndale High boys basketball coach Juan Rickman is pictured this past season.  Like other teams in the state, Ferndale’s season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ferndale High boys basketball coach Juan Rickman is pictured this past season. Like other teams in the state, Ferndale’s season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

 Ferndale High freshman Caleb Renfroe advances the ball this past season.

Ferndale High freshman Caleb Renfroe advances the ball this past season.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Earlier this year, Ferndale High boys basketball coach Juan Rickman was thinking about “trying to get prepared to make a good run at a state title.”

After getting a first-round bye in a Division 2 district tournament, the Eagles started their journey with a dominating 92-37 win against Ferndale University in a semifinal matchup March 11.

However, like every other team in the state that won a semifinal, the Eagles didn’t get the chance to play for a district title.

On March 12, the Michigan High School Athletic Association decided to suspend postseason events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision was eventually made to “suspend activities in all sports for all seasons, effective Monday, March 16 through at least Sunday, April 5.”

Its semifinal win was likely the last game of the year for Ferndale.

Whether or not the Eagles would have earned a chance to play for a state title at the Breslin Center in East Lansing is now pure speculation.

“I was sad,” Rickman said. “I felt sad for our team. I felt like …  we had a good shot to win it; had a good shot to make it to the Breslin and to possibly win it.”

It was Rickman’s second season leading Ferndale. He previously coached at Detroit East English Preparatory Academy.

Aside from feeling “really sad” for players who were with the program before he arrived, Rickman was also thinking about Jayshawn Moore, who transferred from East English, but didn’t play last season due to transfer rules.

“I was really, really, really hurt for Jayshawn Moore, one of the kids that sat out last year,” Rickman said. “For him not to be able to finish the season after sitting out last year, I felt heartbroken for (him) — heartbroken for our team overall. They’ve been working so hard. And finally being in position to accomplish what they’ve been working for all year and not being able to do it, it was sad.”

Rickman's thoughts extend beyond how his team was impacted.

“Unchartered waters. I think we just got (to) lean on God, lean on us pulling together and figuring this out. I’m pretty confident that we will,” he said.

Although it was an incomplete one, Rickman evaluated his team’s season.

“I thought it was progressing,” he said. “We finally got to the point where I was spending less time disciplining guys and actually teaching them. … We were starting to hit our stride, and I think it was coming together at the right time. … I felt good. We had probably the toughest schedule in the state, so we were prepared, battle tested.”

Rickman shared some thoughts on the group he had to work with this past season.

“I enjoyed the maturation process throughout the season,” he said. “It was a reminder why I coach — develop kids, see their development, and step back and appreciate it; how far they came, how much they progressed.”