Unfinished Business – Here Are Some Amazing Seasons That Were Cut Short
In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic caused countries around the world to make changes to most all aspects of life, including cancelling sports. Due to the danger and the rapid spread of the virus, Covid-19, most sporting events were cancelled and seasons cut short, much to the dismay of fans, teams, and coaches. This was unprecedented, something never before seen in our lifetime – the sports world stopped.
We remember them here.
Oregon Women’s Basketball
Oregon went 31-2 and was the Pac 12 regular season and tournament champion. No team in the history of women’s basketball had gotten this kind of attention, except a couple of UConn’s very special teams. This team was revered by fans, women, and men, including players in the NBA. They had the big three – Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally, who soared to new heights over each of the last three seasons and all went in the first round of the WNBA Draft.
Cornell Women’s Hockey
Both the Cornell men’s and women’s hockey teams were ranked No. 1 in their respective polls entering the postseason when all NCAA winter and spring sports championships were canceled. The women’s team had never won an NCAA title, and the men were looking to break a 50-year-drought. The Red’s seniors, Kristin O’Neill, Amy Curlew, Jaime Bourbonnais, Micah Zandee-Hart, Paige Lewis and Grace Graham, have had their last go-around as members of Cornell.
Women’s D1 NCAA Gymnastics
The Oklahoma Sooners finished an undefeated 2019 season with its 4th title in 6 years and were in the mix again but several competitors were eyeing a chance to take down the strongest program of the last decade. The mighty LSU Tigers were seeking their first national championship. Georgia and UCLA were forces as well. UCLA’s seniors helped them win a NCAA title and 2 Pac 10 titles led by the only two female gymnasts ever to win in titles in college and Olympic gold – Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian.
Lander Women’s Basketball Team
Top-seeded Lander was set to host the Division II women’s Southeast Regional tournament and looking to make a run to the Elite Eight. The Lady Bearcats upset Clemson and won the conference regular season and tournament title. They were a 1 seed in the D2 Tournament. Seniors, Jessica Harris and Tabitha Dailey were denied a postseason tournament in the final season of their standout careers. Harris leaves Lander as the career leader in assists and steals. Lander’s coach Kevin Pederson said they were in “shocked disbelief” and left to wonder what might have been.
The Boston Pride of the NWHL
When the NWHL announced that the 2020 Isobel Cup Final between the Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps had been postponed, hearts were broken. In an some alternate world, the women of the Pride are celebrating victory. The Pride lost an Isobel Cup three years ago. They had built a near perfect season losing just one game. They were on a historic run and ready to pounce. The matchup with the Whitecaps, the league’s defending champion, was supposed to be a chance for the Pride to prove they were different this time. They wanted to bring the city of Boston another title.
Hopkins Royals Girls Basketball
The Royals of Minnetonka Minnesota had back-to-back undefeated seasons. They were one game away from another state title. They had seven seniors including, Paige Bueckers, the top high school player in the country who is heading to the storied UConn women’s basketball program. The Royals had a 62-game winning streak but the state girls’ basketball tournament was canceled after the semifinals, so they are left in dismay. However, ESPN named the Hopkins Royals as the No. 1 girls’ basketball team in the nation.
Baylor Women’s Basketball
In January 2020, both Baylor’s men’s and women’s team were ranked #2 in the NCAA. The Lady Bears may have had the best defense in the country and won 15 straight games. Along the way, they beat mighty UConn. They had many standout players, including Lauren Cox, the 6-foot-4 senior who, along with Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, were on the AP women’s basketball All-America team announced in March 2020. She was taken 3rd in the WNBA Draft.
USC Trojans Water Polo Team
When the NCAA D1 water polo championships were cancelled, the Trojans were ranked No. 1. USC was seeking its seventh national championship and third in five years. The NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to spring season student-athletes whose seasons were cut short, but seniors who want to continue have to figure out how to pay to stay as the team only has eight scholarships. Many players will try to sort it out and come back, but in the meantime, all they can do is wait.
Samford Women’s Basketball
The Samford Lady Bulldogs of Homewood, Alabama, were having a magical year. They started the season 1-6 and then went 3-9 and won the Southern Conference Tournament. This season marked the that the Bulldogs won the conference tournament and a share of the regular season title. The earned the SoCon’s automatic bid to the NCAA. They never got to compete for a National Championship though. Olivia Crozier, a fifth-year senior was devastated because, for Samford, it marked just their third trip to the “big dance” in program history.
The Longhorns of Jones High in Oklahoma
Jones High School, a perennial powerhouse in boys sports, have won the state championship in football and boys basketball. The girls were looking claim their first title. The team, who had seven seniors, were the school’s first girls basketball team to go to the state tournament. The team was on the bus heading for their first-round game when the tournament was cancelled. They were ready to play at the State Fair Arena for the first time, but never made it inside and left to wonder what might have been.