In a normal year, most high school basketball coaches in Texas spend the monthly of July scrambling to find opponents to fill their regular-season schedule for the upcoming season.
But after the University Interscholastic League announced on July 21 that tournaments – both regular season and regional playoff – aren’t permissible to be played during the 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lake Dallas head boys basketball coach Josh Welch and girls head coach Jordan Davis were busy finding opponents to make up for those lost games.
Following the UIL’s announcement, both Davis and Welch spent the majority of their day on the phone, making calls and exchanging text messages with several coaching staffs from across the Metroplex.
“It’s been kind of crazy,” Davis said. “I’m hopeful that this is something that never happens again.”
The UIL has allowed for three tournaments and 19 regular-season games to be played in past seasons, but due to social distancing parameters that were implemented this summer, teams this upcoming season are allowed 27 regular-season games and are not allowed to participate in any tournaments.
For Lake Dallas’ girls basketball team, playing in three different tournaments a year ago allowed for the Lady Falcons to bond with their first-year head coach between games, especially on one road trip, in particular, that took them to an event in Granbury.
Although team building is an aspect that Lake Dallas will miss during the bus rides, between games and over team dinners, Davis said she hasn’t had to worry too much about the loss of a tournament. The Granbury event was the only tournament that had been previously confirmed on Lake Dallas’ schedule for the 2020-21 season and the Lady Falcons had been on the waiting list for another showcase in Frisco.
As Lake Dallas prepares to build on a season in which the Lady Falcons won a playoff game for the first time in 12 years and advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2008, Davis is keen on finding opponents that will make her team ready for the grind of the Class 5A playoffs.
So far, mission accomplished.
Lake Dallas will play non-district games against Mansfield Timberview, a state finalist in Class 5A, Plano West, a 6A school, Frisco Lone Star, a reigning regional semifinalist, as well as another playoff team from a season ago in Frisco Memorial.
Davis plans to schedule games on days when the volleyball team doesn’t have matches to allow the students who are dual-sport athletes to play basketball.
“It'll be good for these kids,” Davis said. “Those are some pretty tough teams that have made the playoffs and have had some deep runs. We'll have some tough ones in there. We'll have some tough ones, for sure. But, that's what you need to do when you're replacing tournaments. We need to play some, good tough teams.”
As for Welch, his Falcons had to drop tournaments in Sanger, Anna and Bridgeport. He said he will miss those days getting to spend together as a team and building camaraderie off the court that they will not get to replicate somewhere else.
But, Welch quickly got the ball rolling to find suitable replacements.
Welch found them in Azle, McKinney Boyd, Burkburnett, Benbrook and Aledo. Burkburnett finished last season with a record of 24-10 and played in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs. Benbrook won 20 games and played Ranchview in a bi-district matchup. Aledo was also a playoff team in 2020.
Details of the final versions of Lake Dallas’ basketball schedules are not available.
“This season will be different than any season we have dealt with,” Welch said. “There is more to think about than just basketball but also the safety of the kids, families, and fans. Football and volleyball will be a good testing ground in this ever-changing environment.”