Crimson boys’ basketball team crushed by abrupt cancellation of state tournament

Maple Grove senior point guard Lovell Williams is the center of attention of the Buffalo defense. Despite the Bison’s effort, they could not contain MG’s leading scorer, rebounder and assist leader as Williams scored 17 points to lead the Crimson to victory. (Photo by Rich Moll - richmollphotography.com)

By Bob San

When Lovell Williams and his Maple Grove boys’ basketball teammates went to bed last Thursday, March 12, they were riding an incredible emotional high from just winning a thrilling Section 8 basketball championship game 54-52 over Buffalo and earning a trip to the state tournament.

But the next morning, Williams and the Crimson were stunned by the news that their state tournament dream was not to be. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) decided to immediately cancel all state tournaments, wiping out the boys’ basketball tournament for the first time in history because of public health concerns.

For Williams and the Crimson, the euphoria they felt a night before suddenly turned into disappointment and sadness.

“The team took it very hard, especially our seniors,” said Williams, Maple Grove’s senior point guard and leader. “I woke up Friday and a couple hours later my season was over.”

Williams said the team was crushed when they heard the news that their hard-earned state tournament dream had been dashed.

“Me and the rest of my brothers feel like we were robbed,” Williams said. “I think my team can agree with me on that. I don’t feel like we got any closure on the season. It just ended abruptly and that was that. It was a tough day for everyone who is a part of the Crimson program.”

The MSHSL did not mention in the announcement if there is any chance that the state tournaments could be postponed. However, there is a movement to do just that. As of Sunday, March 15, there were over 23,000 signatures to postpone rather than cancel the state tournaments on change.org.

If the MSHSL does not change its mind, the Crimson will not play in the state tournament and the high school careers of Williams and his fellow seniors are over.

If there is any consolation to Williams, it is that his team ended the season by winning Maple Grove’s fifth straight section championship.

“I am extremely proud of what we accomplished this year and I would do it all over again if I could,” Williams said.

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