It had to tear apart St. Edward basketball coach Eric Flannery. His 25-1 Eagles had just steamrolled Lorain 76-55 in the OHSAA Regional semifinals at James A. Rhodes Arena. Just eight teams were left — four games for a possible state title — when word came down from the state that all tournaments were canceled due to COVID-19.
It was a season that would be hard to duplicate. The season had just come to a conclusion without a real ending.
“Yes we are very disappointed that it got postponed,” Flannery said, “and are trying to make the most out of it. We feel like we were playing our best basketball of the season and obviously wanted our chance to win it all.
“With that being said, we understand the gravity of the situation and know that we are looking out for the greater population, and thinking of others before yourself is always a great life lesson.”
Last month, the Eagles got some great news when Grant Huffman and Devontae Blanton were named to the Division I Boys Basketball All-Ohio teams by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association.
Huffman, a 6-foot-4 senior who averaged 17 points, was selected to the first team, while Blanton, a 6-6 senior who averaged 17.1 points, was named to the second team. The pair were four-year starters.
“Grant was our point guard and was the leader of this team,” Flannery said of the Davidson commit. “He is a special young man who had an amazing four-year career at Ed’s and (I) expect special things from him in the future.”
Huffman also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 5 assists per game.
Blanton, who also averaged 6.5 rebounds per game, followed his brother's lead in coming to St. Edward. His versatility was his forte, Flannery said.
“Devontae was a special player that could play multiple positions,” Flannery said. “He was our post player at times, ran at the wing, and also played back-up point guard. His skill set is one of the best I have ever coached.
“He is another special young man who followed his brother Delvon Roe ( Michigan State) through St. Ed’s. He is a lifetime Eagle who also had a tremendous four-year varsity career.”
The pair weren't the only local players recognized by the Ohio Sportswriters Association. Jalen Barnes of Lutheran West and Ashton Price of Bay Village were named honorable mention on the Division II Boys Basketball All-Ohio team.
Brian Love is a freelance writer in Cleveland.