The Duncanville Panthers are back doing what they love -- playing basketball.
Their mood is more upbeat than it was in March when they returned from the state basketball tournament in San Antonio earlier than expected after COVID-19 derailed their dream of defending the Class 6A state title.
“We were just ready for that moment so when the UIL told us we couldn’t play so everybody’s emotions changed," Panthers senior Damon Nicholas Jr. said. "We all were sad because we did all this work for nothing.”
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Now, the work begins again.
The Panthers are off to a 7-0 start, including an impressive win over Ypsi Prep Academy at Thanksgiving Hoopfest. Staying healthy away from the court is just as important and that’s required their leader to up his game as a coach.
“No question," Duncanville head coach David Peavy said. "We have to be more prepared. We’ve got to get more guys ready, you know, we know it’s a good possibility that we could lose a kid (to COVID-19)."
To reduce the risk of exposure to the virus, the varsity team no longer practices with the JV squad and signs that we’re still in a pandemic are visible in the stands too, with a limited number of tickets sold to home games.
“For the varsity games, it’s like four (tickets) per player for each team so there’s, it’s pretty much empty," Peavy said.
Pretty much empty to increase the odds the Panthers avoid that “empty” feeling when the next state tournament rolls around. Their goal is to add another championship banner to the rafters in their arena.
“If we win this year, God willing, we’re going to put up two more (banners) up there,” Panthers senior guard Juan Reyna said.
“One of our mottos right now is we got a '2-for-1 Special' going," Peavy said. "If we can do what we’re supposed to do this year then we’ll take credit for last year but that’s what’s motivating us now.”