Attention Readers: Find Us in Your Mailbox Soon
With the coronavirus stats going in the right direction, all of us at C&G Newspapers look forward to resuming publication of the St. Clair Shores Sentinel and Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle on May 27th. All other C&G newspapers will begin publishing on June 10th (Advertiser-Times on June 24th). In the meantime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.
 Hazel Park High boys basketball coach Stefon Wilson is pictured earlier this year. Hazel Park’s season was cut short due to a halt in the sports season over COVID-19 concerns.

Hazel Park High boys basketball coach Stefon Wilson is pictured earlier this year. Hazel Park’s season was cut short due to a halt in the sports season over COVID-19 concerns.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Hazel Park High boys basketball coach reflects on season

By: Mark Vest | Madison - Park News | Published March 19, 2020

 Hazel Park High junior Keith Johnson gets up with the ball earlier this year. Hazel Park advanced to a district final before the sports season was suspended.

Hazel Park High junior Keith Johnson gets up with the ball earlier this year. Hazel Park advanced to a district final before the sports season was suspended.

Photo by Deb Jacques

HAZEL PARK — After weathering a challenging regular season, a fresh start had finally arrived for Hazel Park High’s boys basketball program March 9.

That Monday was the opening round of the district playoffs, and like other teams around the state, it was Hazel Park’s first chance to make something new of the season.

The Vikings got off to a good start on their new journey, coming away with a dominating 92-40 win against Detroit Frontier.

With the win, Hazel Park advanced to a Division 2 semifinal March 11, where the Vikings continued to make the most of their fresh start with a 64-55 victory against Center Line High that Wednesday night.

Hazel Park was set to play Warren Lincoln in a district title game on Friday, March 13. But before that could come to pass, as it has halted normal life for so many people around the world, COVID-19 caused a change in plans.

On March 12, the Michigan High School Athletic Association suspended all postseason events.

Hazel Park coach Stefon Wilson has been left to try to adapt to an incomplete season.

“I have spoken to a couple different coaches, and it’s been the same thing,” Wilson said. “We’re all competitors and we all want to play, but we understand that we have to figure out what is going on. On the scale right now, sports is very small. When you see the NCAA cancel the (basketball) tournament, you have to know something big is really going on. … They make a lot of money off of that tournament, and if they’re not playing that tournament, it’s getting scary. … I think everyone needs to be safe right now, and that’s the most important thing.”

It was Wilson’s second season leading Hazel Park. In all likelihood, the Vikings’ semifinal win against Center Line was the last game in a Hazel Park uniform for the team’s seniors.

“If I coach for the next 50 years, I will always remember this group, especially that they weren’t able to play their final game and play in a district championship,” Wilson said. “But I’m proud of them. This is the second season for us, and we really are trying to bring a culture there of discipline and getting guys to be men and be productive members of society. And those seniors that are graduating really helped us do that.”

Wilson was thinking about more than just his players.

“I feel bad for players as well at the college level that it’s their senior year, or they may be going to the NBA, and they don’t have a chance to play in the (NCAA) tournament,” Wilson said. “This is very unique. Never seen anything like this, and we also hope that we never see it again.”

This time period is one that, like so many others around the world, Wilson isn’t likely to forget anytime soon.

“The thing that I will look back on is, obviously, this coronavirus situation,” he said. “I think that’s going to stick out to everyone, especially everyone around the state that won on Wednesday night and didn’t have the opportunity to compete for that championship.”