The News of The Blake School Since 1916

The Spectrum

The News of The Blake School Since 1916

The Spectrum

The News of The Blake School Since 1916

The Spectrum


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Boys’ Basketball Seniors Lose Shot at Sections

COVID-19 cancelled two years’ Section Games, disappoints seniors
Blake Boys’ Basketball 2020-2021 pictured above: [left to right top row] Tyler Middlestadt, Joshua Park ‘22, Grayson Okoronkwo ‘24, Theo Liu ‘22, Max Hubler ‘22, Dane Borene ‘24, Kunga Shidhe-Chokra ‘22, Tyler Biwan [left to right bottom row] Jasper Liu ‘21, Robert Grace IV ‘21, Gabe Ganz ‘21, Will Fazio ‘21, Elijah Short ‘21

When the ball dropped on the eve of 2020, the Blake Boys’ Basketball team did not expect two years of heartbreak to ensue. Will Fazio ‘21, Gabe Ganz ‘21, Jasper Liu ‘21, Robert Grace IV ‘21, and Elijah Short ‘21 prepared for the best of outcomes in the history of Blake Boys’ Basketball, but instead they were faced with adversity and CO- VID-19 complications. However, the team re- mains undeterred, a testament to the leadership of the graduating players and their inspiring attitudes toward the team and sport.

Hours before the Section Final game on March 13, 2020, the players learned that it was cancelled. Fazio recalls, “I don’t think anybody was expecting [the pandemic and the basketball season getting cancelled] at all. [When we entered the court at

the Section Semi-Final game of 2020], COVID wasn’t really there be- fore we went into the game, and after the game, [the] coach said to us, ‘COVID just went crazy. Everyone go sanitize your hands.’”

Robert Grace IV ’21 (Betsy Fries)

Grace, one of the team captains, reflects, “I’m not really an emotional person, but a lot of tears were shed [when I heard the news].” During the 2020 basketball season, the team experienced the greatest success in Blake Boys’ Basketball history. Dreams of the Class of 2020 seniors and Class of 2021 juniors were nearing a reality, until notice that all Minnesota State High School League winter sports, section games, and the state tournaments were cancelled. It was that Friday their goal of go- ing to the 2020 State Tournament was shattered.

At the end of the 2020 season, the team was ranked fourth in Section 2A, the highest the program has ever been in Blake Basket- ball’s history. Unfortunately, the 2020 season was historic in not only its successes but also its end.

Although, the tribulations of the 2020 season did not deter the team in the off-season. In fact, it had the inverse effect. Liu, another team captain, says, “The following year [of 2021], the goal was always to get back to the Section Finals. That’s basically what we worked for all year. In practice, we knew that was our one goal, and we knew we were capable of it.”

Will Fazio ’21 (Betsy Fries)

Ganz, a third captain, shares, “That off- season [between the 2020 season and the 2021 season], we were all super motivated go- ing into our next season because Rob, Jasper, and I were upcoming seniors. And having the [previous] season end the way it did, we were all super motivated to prove that we belong in that spot, that we could get there again, and that we could win once we got there again.” Grace adds, “We promised our seniors that we’d get to the same spot next year. But, unfortunately, again this year, history kinda repeated itself.” Fazio concurs, “For the whole year, every practice we would talk about how we were going to make it to the Section Final and make it to State be- cause we would actually have the opportunity.”

Clearly, the basketball team’s grit did not subside, even after the cancellation of the 2020 season. Liu remarks, “We all knew what we wanted to accomplish. And we all did whatever we could do to accomplish that…so those two weeks before the [Section Semi-Final game], we didn’t go to school [and participated in online school to avoid coronavirus expo- sure, close contacting, and quarantines].”

Jasper Liu ’21 (Betsy Fries)

Tragically, a team member tested positive–as a result of close contact with a family member that had coronavirus due to work–on the day of the Section Final game, requiring the team to yield the victory to the other team and end their sea- son. Short remarks, “It wasn’t like we were out partying… we were all online for two weeks [in preparation] for the game…But then it was right there. Like boom.”

The week of the game, Short began to feel symptoms from what he would later learn was COVID-19. Short says, “I had taken a test the previous day. It had come back negative. I was just hoping it was a cough.”

He adds, “When I woke up on the day of the [2021 Section Semi- Final game], I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates and tell them this season has to end. But I [couldn’t] be irresponsible. I [had] to get tested again.”

Elijah Short ’21 (Betsy Fries)

The Boys’ team, minus Short, all practiced on the site of the Section Semi-Final game later that day, with the knowledge that their teammate was awaiting a COVID-19 test result. They hoped it would be negative. Grace says, “Before the game, we met with the coaches again and it was basically the same scene [as last year]. And he said with all that we know, the season is over.”

Short says, “When I came back with a positive [test for CO- VID-19], I couldn’t neglect to tell them that and let them play know- ing they might have it… It was hard to do that. At the end of the day,I know that [my team] all knows it was not intentional. We can’t control who we get it from. But that was definitely hard for me.” Liu acknowledges the uncontrollable nature of this circumstance, “Everything we could do in our control, [we did].”

This team-orientated attitude between the teammates and coach- ing staff endures. Liu says, “[Our coach] re- ally checked in on us. I know he texted me and a few guys and said he was sorry about [the way] that things ended. He’s been a big help in us processing.” Ganz adds, “We’re having a team banquet where we’ll go over and un- pack everything.”

Gabe Ganz ’21 (Betsy Fries)

Grace adds that the team plans to have two banquets, one of which will be a formal banquet and the other will be more informal. He says, “We just wanted to really be with each other one more time.”

The basketball team and players still have much to look forward to in the future. Whether it be the continuation of their individual basketball careers or the team’s chance to succeed next season, Grace shares, “I’ll be playing basketball at Macalester in St. Paul. I’ll luckily won’t end my basket- ball career, per se, with two cancelled seasons.” Ganz agrees, “I’ll definitely keep basketball involved in my life in some form…I am looking back on [the season] and being grateful for the times and memories that I did have with the team.”

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About the Contributors
Maggie Seidel
Maggie Seidel, Editor Emeritus
Hi, I’m Maggie! I am a senior in the Class of '22. I am the former Managing Editor and Business Manager, who also edited the Opinions Section, Student Life, Features, Games & Ads, Perspectives, and In-Depth during my four year tenure on Spectrum. I am excited to continue in my role as Editor Emeritus & will certainly remain a subscriber to Spectrum to learn about happenings at Blake. 
Betsy Fries
Betsy Fries, Contributing Writer
Hey there, I'm Betsy. My pronouns are she/her. My toxic personality trait is that I like my iced coffee more than I like my friends. Sorry not sorry. I'm a Senior, and I am currently a Contributing Writer. My freshman year I started as a staff photographer and I wrote a couple articles. I loved seeing the end result of the final paper and wanted to contribute more to the process. Sophomore year I edited Features and was the Photography Editor. Last year I was the Creative Director and Photography Editor. I also edited Food Features for a short amount of time. Last semester I was the Creative Director. I like to take photos and stuff...

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