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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic taking place in our society has left many coaches, athletes and athletic directors in question concerning whether an indoor season for sports is even a possibility. Now with certain schools such as Piedmont High School receiving the green light to practice, that dream is slowly looking like a reality.
On March 8, Piedmont’s basketball program was finally given permission to enter a gym since its last game of the season over a year ago on March 3. It had been 370 days since the Highlanders had been given the chance to play ball. For the past 15 weeks, Piedmont boys basketball coach Ben Spencer has done his best to keep his team engaged and in shape for their possible upcoming season.
“Honestly our offseason this year has had a lot of ups and downs,” Spencer said. “This offseason has been about being flexible and trying to keep these athletes engaged with all the last minute changes to our season.”
In one of its best years during the 2019-2020 season, Piedmont caught the attention of many throughout the North Coast Section. Averaging 75.6 points per game, Piedmont achieved a fantastic record of 24-6 while reaching third in its league. With this program making the NCS playoffs every year since 2015 and state for the past two seasons, there is no doubt that there is something special within the players and the organization.
“Effort, attitude and hard-work,” is all Spencer used to describe the core values of his program. “When you compare us to the likes of San Leandro and Castro Valley where they are pulling from thousands of kids and we barely crack 900, we have to work a lot harder than these other schools, and I always tell my players to act mentally tough and to take no days off.”
While the future of the high school basketball season remains uncertain, Spencer and his players are remaining optimistic that they can pick up where they left off from last year. With one of Piedmont’s greatest teams in school history, its hopes of making a deep run in state were delayed with 79-74 road loss in overtime to Weston Ranch.
With the Highlanders losing state by an edge, there is reason to suspect that they will come back into this league with their heads in the game. The likes of many key players such as Luke Harris and JoJo Murphy returning this year shows that there is still much talent within the squad.
Piedmont’s varsity program has a number of goals that they would like to fulfill next season. But none of the goals seems as important as explained by Spencer.
“Our No. 1 goal is to safely get all athletes into the gyms so we can have our season,” Spencer said. “I don’t think this year we are reaching for too many goals with this pandemic and all these changes going on. We are still staying hopeful and optimistic but we don’t want our hopes too high. But as long as we get our season our goal is to make sure our athletes remain safe.”
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