HOPKINS, Mich. — Four Hopkins senior girls basketball players have played their final high school basketball game without even realizing it.
The varsity was shutdown last Friday due to a COVID-19 case within the team, canceling the last three games of the regular season.
The question then became: would the team be able to play in districts against West Michigan Aviation on Monday, March 22.
Unfortunately, it was determined the team would be in quarantine until 12:01 AM on Tuesday morning, meaning they wouldn't be able to play on Monday evening.
However, the teams came to a resolution of moving the opening round district matchup to Tuesday night, before the MHSAA denied the date change.
Head coach David Flowers exhausted all options, but it came down to either canceling the game and season, or letting the junior varsity team play in the place of the Vikings varsity.
He chose the latter.
"I am so excited about tonight," said Flowers, in his first season with the program, "When I first brought this to my JV team as a possibility, I wasn't sure how they were going to react but every single member of the team will suit up tonight to give our seniors a fighting chance at another game."
The @HHSLadyVikings varsity team is in quarantine until tomorrow. Rather than cancel, they’re now relying on their JV team to get a win in districts tonight to give the seniors one more game.— Zach Harig (@FOX17Zach) March 22, 2021
Story: https://t.co/RD5U6a4QN5 pic.twitter.com/qnq1UBOEAY
And the players went from devastated to hopeful.
"The day we found out and got the call after school, we were all like, 'Welp, that was our last game, Friday was the end and we didn't even know it,'" said senior, Lindsey Bulich.
But then the conversation changed.
"Then it changed to, there's a chance we can bring the JV girls in and they can play for us and that's what happened. Now, we have a lot of faith in them," she laughed.
Flowers is able to coach in Monday night's game because of being fully vaccinated and is inside the window of not needing to quarantine due to close contact.
And Hopkins senior Olivia Sebright made sure the JV players aren't feeling any added pressure, even giving them all gift bags with hand-written sayings last week to show their support.
An assistant coach came to pick up the bags and deliver them to the team at practice.
"My mom and I were talking about what we could do to encourage the JV team, we decided it was a really good idea to send them gift bags, so we put some snacks and inspiring quotes in them to motivate them," Sebright added.
Shoutout to Olivia Sebright for the snack bags and thoughtful letters to her teammates! We appreciate you Liv! pic.twitter.com/baGRYmlfvg— Hopkins Girls Basketball (@HHSLadyVikings) March 19, 2021
Unfortunately, the junior varsity fell short on Monday night in the game against WM Aviation Academy, 53-42, despite an outstanding battle.
"It's definitely bittersweet," Flowers said after the loss, "my heart breaks for our four seniors. But, I don't think I've ever been so proud of a group of girls than I am tonight of this group, to do what they did, extremely selfless of them, they battled and gave it everything they had."
The Aviators advance to face Wayland on Wednesday in the district semifinal.