Calling a Timeout: Stafford coach David Montano reacts to halt of UIL Boys Basketball State Tournament
HOUSTON – David Montano was standing in a gym in San Antonio watching his team go through a light workout when he got the news.
Montano got the new like everyone else – a release from the UIL stating the 2020 Boys Basketball State Tournament was suspended until further notice due to concerns about the coronavirus.
"Obviously a little disappointed but I understand the reason why," Montano said. "Everybody's going to be disappointed, but we have to understand that this is a valid reason. It is nothing to play with, the health of people is nothing to play with."
Stafford was getting ready to play in its first state semifinal since 2010. The Spartans were set to face Argyle in the Class 4A State Semifinal on Friday at 1:30 p.m. inside the Alamodome.
When Montano answered his phone on Thursday afternoon, he had just found out the news himself about 10 minutes before. Telling his team would be the next step.
"I think my message will be optimistic," Montano said about his message to the team. "We will play at some point and time. If not, ultimately the goal was met in a sense. To get here was the No. 1 goal. Once you get here, whatever happens happens. The goal was met to get to the State Tournament. All-in-all it was a good season. Whether we play or not, it was a great season for this team, the community and the school."
The move by the UIL comes after the last 24 hours has seen massive shutdowns of other sports in the United States.
The NBA suspended its season on Wednesday night after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The NCAA originally announced on Wednesday that it would limit fans for its men's and women's tournaments.
That escalated on Thursday morning with the cancellation of major conference basketball tournaments, including the Big 10, Big XII and American Athletic Conference, followed by the NCAA announcing that it would cancel March Madness all together.
"It's like a forest fire, once it goes, it goes," Montano said. "Everybody follows suit. It would look careless on their part when all the professional leagues have shut things down. I could see it. They are in a tough situation; nobody wants to see it cancelled. But those are hard decisions that have to be made with a lot of things involved. I think they did the right thing."
The biggest question is in the UIL statement, the tournament was "suspended until further notice", leaving the door open for the tournament to possibly being played at a later date.
"For my kids, I would love to see them play in a venue like that," Montano said. "Most of the kids I have never experienced anything like this, being at this level. This is all new to them. It would be weird to play this three or four weeks from now. It would just be weird … How do you keep practices going? I guess UIL would have to make that call. But it just affects everybody in general."
The UIL hasn't released any information on if that would even be a possibility as the "fluid situation" continues to develop by the minute.
But could the 2019-2020 Texas high school boys basketball season come to an end with no state champions?
"It would be weird to end the season without State Champions," "But, what do you do? If they're shutting this down, I'm sure there is talk about shutting schools down for a timeframe and going basically online education, which Stafford is capable of doing. It's weird but it may happen.
"A lot of it is uncharted territory, we just need to make the best decisions for everybody involved."
HOUSTON – David Montano recognizes the quality of basketball that surrounds his school.
Surrounded by Morton Ranch, led by Baylor-signee LJ Cryer and TCU-signee Eddie Lampkin; Fort Bend Hightower, which has national prospect Bryce Griggs; Bellaire which reached a Regional Final and the national-headline grabber Jack Yates can cause people to overlook you sometimes.
In the middle of that plethora of basketball talent sits Stafford High School.
"People ask me all the time, where is Stafford?" the second-year Stafford basketball coach said. "We start with Houston, because everyone knows where that is. We're Southwest Houston. We're surrounded by Fort Bend ISD, Houston ISD and Katy ISD.