PASS

Southwood’s Gabe Lloyd passes the ball to a teammate during the Knights’ game against Lakeland Christian in the sectional final.

What if.

It’s the phrase used by most of Southwood’s boys’ basketball team, whether it be coaches or players.

The Knights’ season hangs in the balance after last week’s decision by the IHSAA to postpone the state tournament indefinitely. Southwood was one of 64 teams still alive in postseason play heading into the regional round. The Frankfort regional was set to host Class A No. 7 Covington against the Knights in the opening match-up and Blue River against Cowan in the other regional duel.

For two Southwood seniors, Gabe Lloyd and Jackson Simons, it not only puts an unexpected halt on their season but potentially an abrupt end to their careers on the hardwood.

“I was very frustrated that our chance to prove ourselves and play in a game that we worked hard all year for was postponed,” Lloyd said. “I am happy it isn’t canceled completely and I am hopeful to be able to finish the tournament, but it isn’t looking too good.”

Like his teammate and classmate, Simons was equally frustrated but opted for a moment of brief levity in the situation as well.

“I was really disappointed to find out it had been postponed,” he said. “I semi-jokingly messaged a player on Covington’s team and asked if they’d be willing to play us at a city park because all of us just want to play some basketball.”

Both Simons and Lloyd played a big part in Southwood’s season. Both have been starters all season with Simons playing the second-most minutes per game and Lloyd the fourth-most. Simons has been forced into a new role with the Knights lacking size this season, grabbing a team-best 5.5 rebounds per game. Lloyd leads the team in three-pointers made at 35 on the year, serving as the team’s point guard.

After an up-and-down stretches throughout the season, Southwood appeared to have turned a corner in the final weeks of the regular season. Wins over Northfield and Eastbrook in the final three games sparked the Knights heading into the postseason.

Southwood opened its postseason with a convincing win in the sectional semi-finals over hosts Southern Wells, 69-44. In the final, the Knights put forth one of their best performances of the season, routing Lakeland Christian, 78-25.

Simons and Lloyd each played big roles in the recent run. Simons led the Knights in scoring in the win over Southern Wells with 21 points and scored in double figures in four of the five contests. Lloyd scored 16 points in the win over Northfield and had 12 assists combined in the two sectional games.

With Southwood looking to have turned the corner heading into the regional, the postponement proved even more disappointing for the seniors

“It’s very frustrating because you play all season hoping to win a sectional, regional, etc., and we have had multiple weeks to prepare for the postseason all for it to be postponed,” Lloyd said. “I feel that our team could be one of the better teams left and I want the opportunity to show it.

“I think even if they decide to follow through with the tournament, we’re definitely going to lose some of the momentum we’ve been building up because we’ve been playing some really good ball lately,” Simons added.

Adding to the frustration for both Lloyd and Simons is that, as the season hangs in the balance, as does the careers of each. Looking at the bigger picture even, not only are the basketball careers of the two in the balance but their high school sports careers as a whole..

Given the indefinite time period placed on the suspension by the IHSAA, there is a chance the tournament is never resumed. And with schools going on extended breaks, the spring sports season could fall victim as well.

All of that has run through the minds of the two seniors as they look at what could be and potentially what never will be.

“I will be very disappointed in the ‘what if’ that could have been us possibly winning and continuing through to the state championship,” Lloyd said. “The unknown is what will be the most frustrating thing about the season possibly ending this way.

“If this does end up being how my basketball career ends I still haven’t figured out how to react,” Simons added. “On one hand, I’m glad I didn’t go out losing, but on the other hand, I’ll never get a chance to even try and win a state championship. Hopefully, everything clears up and we get to keep playing because I’ve still got a few more games left in me before I’m ready to call it quits.”