RINER, Va. – Last Thursday, the Auburn boys basketball team was patiently awaiting their 8 p.m. tip against Matthews in the Class 1 state basketball championship.
“Once we saw the NCAA cancelled all their tournaments, we were like, oh no this isn’t good,” junior Reed Underwood said. “Then when we saw the VHSL cancelled all theirs, we realized, ours was probably next.”
As they watched the Class 2 championship unfold, so did their fate. Auburn would be declared the Class 1 co-champions, and not play a game.
“We all wanted to play in that game and prove we could win that type of game,” sophomore Ethan Millirons said. “We were heartbroken to figure that out at that time.”
“It was just a quiet bus ride until we got to Roanoke,” junior Rusty Marshall said. “Then we were just like, we’re state champs, co-champs.”
And as they rolled into the parking lot of the school that night, the Riner community was waiting.
“It really changed the mood for us, I mean, it was pretty exciting seeing everybody there and cheering us on,” junior Daniel Brotherton said. “It was really heartbreaking whenever we didn’t get to play. (When) we saw everyone there, it really changed the mood for us.”
The Eagles finished their season 20-7, with a state title to boot, and sent their lone senior, Carson Perkins, out with a ring.
“It was obviously a shock, I don’t think I’ve caught the whole realization of it yet," Perkins said. “Definitely one of my favorite memories, obviously it could have ended a little different but it is one of my favorite memories especially with the guys we had. It was a good experience to have it with them.”