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OLSM basketball hopeful to continue, understands MHSAA decision

By: Zachary Manning | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 20, 2020

 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Jason Drake II makes a move against Warren De La Salle earlier this season. The Eaglets were scheduled to play Waterford Mott in a D-1 district championship prior to the season being suspended.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Jason Drake II makes a move against Warren De La Salle earlier this season. The Eaglets were scheduled to play Waterford Mott in a D-1 district championship prior to the season being suspended.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

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As boys basketball teams across the state were gearing up for district championships, the news of a postseason suspension broke.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association followed along with countless other leagues, such as the NBA, NHL and MLB in suspending play until further notice due to COVID-19.

The Orchard Lake St. Mary’s basketball team was getting ready to practice when the news came out. St. Mary’s was scheduled to play Waterford Mott in a Division 1 district championship March 13.

Eaglets coach Todd Covert credited the MHSAA with doing what it could to keep everyone safe in a tough situation.

“I can’t fault what they did,” Covert said of the MHSAA’s decision. “When you see the NBA shutting down and the NCAA shutting down, I don’t fault them one bit.”

St. Mary’s was in the midst of one of its best seasons in school history. Prior to the suspension, the Eaglets were 21-1 overall and riding a 13-game winning streak.

In addition, St. Mary’s had won the Catholic High School League regular season and tournament title, finishing with an undefeated conference record.

The Eaglets didn’t want to stop at just conference titles, though. The big goal was to win a state championship. The Eaglets’ last title was in 2000.

“It was really hard. I just tried to explain to them that it’s bigger than basketball and, unfortunately, there’s a really hard life lesson that we got to take here,” Covert said. “It’s just tough. We were right on the doorsteps to do something that we hadn’t done in a long time.”

With the season just being suspended, there is still some optimism that the Eaglets will have their chance at winning a title, and that is certainly their hope. As of March 18, the MHSAA was still referring to it as a suspension of the postseason, not a cancellation.

If the season ends up being cancelled, it would be a hard pill to swallow for a ranked team that had knocked off several highly-touted programs throughout the year.

But while it may take some time for the postseason question marks to get sorted out, Covert is certain about one thing. Regardless of how the rest of the year plays out, he knows this year’s group left its mark on the St. Mary’s basketball program.

“I think it’s up there with the best teams that we’ve ever had,” Covert said. “They’ll go down as one of the best. I know it’s not the state championship, but they did everything they could during the time period they had.”

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