Reagan Engler

Coppell sophomore Reagan Engler and the Cowgirls are slated to tip off the 2020-21 regular season Nov. 6 at Southlake Carroll.

On his way to guiding Coppell’s boys basketball team to a second consecutive District 6-6A title, Cowboys head coach Clint Schnell emphasized how much the tough competition that his team faced in tournaments last season factored into his team’s success.

Coppell lost by four points to the state’s third-ranked team Dickinson by four points in the In-N-Out Burger Holiday Invitational Tournament in Allen, beat No. 6 Beaumont United earlier that day, fell to No. 3 Killeen Ellison by three points in the Classic Chevrolet Coppell Showcase and was upended by No. 11 Odessa Permian in the championship game of the Midland Lee Tall City Oilman’s Tournament.

Games like those where tournament placing is on the line is one thing that high school basketball teams across Texas will miss this upcoming season because of changes that have been made in respond to COVID-19 by the University Interscholastic League.

Tournaments have been scrapped and replaced by a modified schedule in which teams will play a 27-game regular season.

“It's just unlike any season that we've had before,” Schnell said. “We go into it with a plan and adjustments on what the rules and protocols are going to be today, but those could change at any point. Just being flexible and being grateful that we're going to have a season is the biggest thing." 

Like their male counterparts, Coppell’s girls basketball team has had to give up three tournaments due to COVID-19: Rockport, a holiday tournament at Keller Central as well as their home tournament.

The six-hour drive to Rockport and subsequent few days there is an experience that Cowgirls head coach Ryan Murphy would have allowed his team to use for team-bonding purposes.

Instead, Coppell has found suitable replacements in Bishop Lynch, Irving Nimitz, Winnsboro, McKinney Boyd, Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage.

Murphy doesn’t know how the current health crisis is going to look like two months from now when Coppell is tentatively scheduled to tip off the regular season Nov. 6 at Southlake Carroll, so that’s why he is trying to take things one day at a time.

"At the end of the day, I'm just excited to get to play,” he said. “I know whatever the UIL actually came up with to allow us to have games is a positive because you saw what happened to spring sports. You don't want that to happen with your kids again."

The schedule for Coppell’s boys basketball team is in the process of being finalized, with Highland Park, Richland, Sulphur Springs and Euless Trinity circled as likely non-district opponents for the Cowboys.

"I'm not opposed to potentially playing three teams in one week,” Schnell said. “It's very much like a tournament. It's a good way to replicate the intricacies of a tournament."

With the fall season for Classes 5A and 6A being pushed back by one month due to a spike in positive COVID-19 cases earlier this summer, Schnell and Murphy might not have their full rosters available whenever basketball season tips off in November due to several athletes playing in other sports such as football, volleyball and cross country.

District play for the Cowgirls is tentatively slated to begin Dec. 8 at home against Plano.

"A lot of the work that you're going to do is in season,” Murphy said. “That's going to be a little difficult but everyone is in the same boat. You've just got to adjust."

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