Potosi Boys Basketball looked a little different than previous years. Even with COVID-19, Potosi had only two seniors; in 2020, they had seven.
On November 23rd, 2020 basketball season started in Wisconsin. No one knew what was going to happen, or how long it would last, but what we did know is that masks had to be worn at all times on and off the court. From never having to wear a mask in a sport before, this was something coaches and players had to adjust to. Coach Uppena said, “It really wasn’t up to me to adapt, it was up to the players. This is what you had to do, so you did it. I just followed the rules and was obviously concerned how you players would react.” Having to wear masks in practices and games made the disposable masks really wet and hot. “Wearing disposable masks was all we had at first, so we didn’t know any better until Coach Uppena brought us the Under Armour masks. These helped us adapt a lot, but were still not normal,” said senior Jake Stoney.
Only having two seniors, this year's team was not experienced together. In a normal year’s basketball offseason, we have open gyms at least twice a week, along with tournaments on many weekends. This year, we didn’t have even one tournament, and only had a handful of open gyms. This affected this year's teams tremendously, especially with how young we were. Preparing for a season like this is hard. Coach Uppena did many things in advance that fans and players might not have seen when the season started. “You start looking at who you have, what you can do offensively and defensively, watching film from the past, watching other coaches, Youtube some things, and watch some clinics. It was harder for you guys because you guys haven’t played all summer except a few open gyms, but in the end, I tried doing it as normal as possible.”
Being so young, we were ranked at the bottom of our division. Last year, we finished second in the division and won a regional title. The players and coaches had a lot of questions they had to find answers for. “I used this for motivation. We were really good last year and I never got to play that much. I used this to learn from them [the graduated seniors] so when I knew the time would come, I could help the team as best as possible,” said Stoney. All in all, we found many key points for us. After a few changes to the rotation after the first few games, we found a rotation that worked best. “We got better all year, and that is what really matters when it comes to tournament time,” said Coach Uppena. We finished the season 9-9 and tied for second in the conference with Shullsburg. This surprised the whole Six Rivers conference. Coach Uppena explained “We lost to some good teams. There was one bad game which I thought we played poorly and should have won, but other than that, the teams we lost to were good.” We dropped games against Lancaster, who finished second in their conference, Royall, who made it to a sectional final, and Wauzeka-Steuben, who made it to state. “When we lost, it was rare that we were out of it by a lot. Southwestern was a four point game, Highland was a close game, and even Wauzeka-Steuben was a close game until about 8 minutes left in the game. I see this as a pat on the back with how we competed with all the other teams, [us] being so young. When we won, on the other hand, it was so much fun with how we competed and played. You would have never guessed we were a young team,” said Stoney.
Having Covid around was very tough for the basketball team, who was quarantined twice during the season. “Every time we got quarantined, I saw it as starting over. With us having a young team, rhythm was everything, and having to stop everything for two weeks at a time ruined our rhythm. I am very proud of how the boys reacted to it though. You guys got up to the gym the very first day you could have, did individual practices at different hoops, and got back. At the end of the season, we were finally clicking,” said Coach Uppena. After being quarantined twice, we wanted to make sure this would not happen again. We made some changes to our everyday routines in school. “Our locker room [was moved] down to the football locker room so we would not be in contact with people in the locker room, we ate lunch in the computer lab, and we socialized even further than normal to make sure we would not get knocked out. We even separated from the JV team by practicing on different sides [of the gym] and separating on the bus. If someone was going to knock us out, it would have to be a team we played against or one of us on the team,” said Stoney.
This season will be one we remember for a lifetime, but we hope kids will never experience the things we went through. Every player brought something to the table that made the 2020-21 boys basketball team unique.