A slew of COVID-19 cases have plagued the Knights boys basketball team's season thus far.
In their first game since Thursday, Dec. 10, the Ocoee Knights couldn’t get anything going as they lost 72-49 to the Lake Brantley Patriots on Monday, Jan. 11.
The loss to Lake Brantley (6-5), is the beginning of what will be a rigorous road ahead for Ocoee (3-5).
On Dec. 10, Ocoee turned in one of their best performances of the season against the then undefeated Apopka Blue Darters, though they lost 56-53. Then the following day when Ocoee went to take their mandatory COVID-19 tests, five players tested positive.
With the five positive tests, players and coaches were forced to isolate for 10 days then go four days without any basketball activities as a team per OCPS policy for when a team has a positive test. After the 14 days passed, Ocoee was set to practice for the first time on Dec. 28.
Before their practice, the Knights once again had to take their COVID-19 tests. After those tests, it was revealed that two players tested positive — forcing Ocoee into quarantine again for 10 days.
“We lost three games for the Christmas tournament, we lost Windermere, Doctor Phillips and Lakeland,” Ocoee’s head coach John “Sarge” Siers said of the games lost because of the outbreak amongst the team. “So we’ve missed all of these games.”
After isolating for a second time, Ocoee was cleared to practice once again after all of their tests came back negative. The Knights didn’t have to go through the additional four days without practicing as a team, though they were only able to practice twice before their first game back.
“On Dec. 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st let’s practice, let’s get ready to go for Jan. 5, and now we’re off until Jan. 7,” Sarge said of his thought process before the positive tests on Dec. 28. “Practice on the 8th, practice on the 9th — Sunday is the 10th (and then), four games.
“It’s bad for everybody,” Siers said. “It’s not like ‘woe is me.’ It is what it is. When you got a young bunch of guys (with) no real varsity experience, and we were getting better, we were really starting to figure things out, it’s hard to take a month off … (We’ve) just got to go to work, (you) can’t feel sorry for yourself because that doesn’t help anything.”
As a result of the multiple COVID-19 outbreaks amongst their team, Ocoee lost out on eight games. Now, in an attempt to make up some of the games they missed out on, they will attempt to play three more games this week, three games the following week and four more games the week after that.
With 11 games planned over the next three weeks, Siers estimates his team will only have three days to practice in between. Even with the days that Ocoee can practice, how much they can really get done is still a question that Siers hasn’t found the answer to.
“I don’t know how you figure that out,” Siers said. “We can’t go hard in practice tomorrow. We can be focused, we can work on some stuff. It’s going to be interesting. I’ve got to think through it and put a plan together. We can’t really go and grind for two hours and then play Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“I’m not the only one that’s in this situation,” he said of figuring out how to practice while having to play 11 games in three weeks. “There’s four NBA teams that are off tonight, college teams every night that are postponed. It’s just part of the times unfortunately and we have to figure it out together.”
Ocoee is set to host Apopka (8-2), on Jan. 13 and Windermere (10-4), on Jan. 14, then they’ll go on the road to play Oviedo (9-6), on Jan. 15.