Statesmen Celebrate With Clean Sweep Of The Heart To Heartbreaking End

It was the sixth tournament victory in the John Henry era.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The nets came down in Oskaloosa on Monday, March 9th, as William Penn defeated Clarke 96-90 to claim the Heart of America Tournament Championship.

Just a couple of weeks before their tournament win, the Statesmen had claimed the Heart of America Conference title outright.

That night of winning the regular-season conference title was one of pure joy. All the work, not just for a season, but for a lifetime was paying off as the team celebrated the first goal they set.

Head Coach John Henry that night shared his joy for the team and their accomplishment. “I’m so happy for this group because they’ve been such a tight-knit group, and such a fun group to work with.”

The team had suffered a rash of injuries during the season, losing a couple of key players along the way.

As the buzzer rang, and the Statesmen rushed the floor to celebrate their win, “That was a hard-fought battle. That was a great game,” said Henry as he caught his breath after jumping around in the excitement.

“I’m very proud because Clarke has an awesome group that just kept coming at us,” added Henry. “Hats off to them. I’m happy for them too, and we’ll be rooting for them in Kansas City.”

The following Wednesday, the team sat inside the Chief Mahaska Room located on campus, awaiting the announcement that would show who their first opponent would be at the NAIA National Tournament.

William Penn was selected as a #2 seed in the Cramer Bracket and would be facing #7 seed Central Baptist on March 11th at 7:30 pm.

A rollercoaster then started as the spread of COVID-19 began to change the sporting landscape, and health officials expressed their concern about large gatherings of individuals, such as sporting events.

The NCAA released a statement on March 11th that their tournament would be played without fans, and the NAIA followed suit shortly.

As with all things during this pandameic, that was short-lived, and the NAIA and others ultimately canceled their winter championship events.

William Penn and its players wouldn’t be traveling to Kansas City in an effort to win a national championship.

“Devasted,” said Henry of his players after the news broke.

Students whose lives had been enriched because of the game found themselves wondering if it would have been their year.

The Statesmen ended up with a 30-3 record and celebrating with their team members, but they are now left with that thought, could this have been our year. The seniors also stepped away from the court that night, not knowing that was their final time. No chance to say goodbye to something they had loved, worked at for years, and in many cases, had opened doors to a better life.

Posted by on Mar 15 2020. Filed under College Sports, Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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