VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — It wasn’t quite the ending they’d hoped for.
The pandemic forced an early end to a historic season for Green Run High School boys basketball players.
“We played in the state semis against Potomac at Norfolk State then we were told we couldn’t play Norview, which we had played previously in the region finals, then they told us they were going to cancel the season because of the pandemic,” said Kenneth Harris, the head coach at Green Run.
In the midst of it all they lost a former teammate and dear friend in Ashley James, who died in an accidental shooting mid-season.
Senior point guard Jacob Cooper says it was difficult to cope with.
“It was a hard loss and it was at a tough time, we were in the state tournament and then we lost him. It was hard feelings going on. A lot of emotions,” Cooper said.
Cooper says they played as hard as they could as long as they could, with James always in their hearts.
“We played for the team ourselves but losing him made us go even harder,” Cooper said.
Despite the circumstances, they were named co-state champions.
The hardware representing their hard work and determination now sits in the high school’s trophy case.
“Just knowing we were the first ones to bring a state championship back to Green Run High School boys’ basketball it was an awesome feeling for us,” Cooper said.
However, one thing was missing — the championship rings.
Since the school system didn’t want the players to have to pay for them, they began fundraising.
“We were fundraising with shirts, we were fundraising through the community, then all the sudden came through on social media we started noticing the community was out there,” Harris said.
That’s where Green Run alum Helario Deguzman comes in.
When he caught wind, the team didn’t have enough money he created a GoFundMe.
“Once I posted it, I would get a $50 donation here, I actually put $100 of my own money to start it then eventually in 5 hours I had $2,200.”
The second the funds hit his account, Deguzman presented the check to Coach Harris.
“I think with that’s going on in the world I think you have to look past those kinds of things and try to do things in your own community to make a difference,” Deguzman said.
Cooper says he can’t wait to get the bling on his finger, a token that marks a part of he and his teammates’ lives.
“You can look at it and it shows how much hard work you put into it and its always going to be a memory for the team even though y’all move away from each other you’re going to think about that team every day, every time you put that ring on,” said a smiling Cooper.
Coach Harris says they plan to do a ring presentation with the team at the first game December 21.
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