The Prairie High School boys varsity basketball team has encountered erratic weather and ever-changing COVID-19 regulations this season, but the team is unwilling to let that deter them.
Coach Jimmy Tuominen maintains confidence in his team despite factors outside of his control.
“I’d say the season is very fractured right now,” said Tuominen. “With the weather here in the last couple weeks and with COVID protocols, we’ve only played four games all season. We probably have the smallest number of games played in the state at the moment.”
Tuominen said another contributing factor is a few schools either postponed or canceled scheduled games at the start of the season. So far, six games have been either postponed or canceled. Three of them were canceled because of COVID-19 cases, and the others were from the weather.
“We had three games pushed and we were supposed to play in a holiday tournament right after Christmas, but with the weather the way it was that week, the tournament had to be canceled,” he said.
Tuominen said other schools are facing similar situations.
As of Jan. 7, the team had a record of 1-3. They beat Seton Catholic High School but lost against Kelso, Reynolds and Kalama.
According to Tuominen, the team is still young and inexperienced. He said the team has three seniors, but only one of them has varsity experience.
“We have a lot of sophomores and juniors trying to learn as we go every game and take advantage of every opportunity we play a basketball game to get better,” he said. “Since we’re going into league, typically we have 10 games under our belt, but we only have four right now with one of them being a league game. We’re going to be under fire right away to compete in our league with our young basketball team.”
The team is required to have 10 games in order to reach the playoffs, Tuominen noted. Once their league games are complete, Tuominen believes they will reach that threshold and that’s his current priority.
“We usually have 10 games before we start the league in a normal year, but this is not a normal year because of the circumstances we’ve faced,” he said.
Tuominen said Hayden Rose is a player to watch on the team. Rose is a senior and four-year varsity player who was on All League in the previous season. He has averaged a double-double, which Tuominen said has helped the team reach a “focal point.”
The coach also said the team can rely on Rose to “help the other guys along the way, bring them together, and learn what it is to be a varsity player.”
Tuominen said Rose leads by example.
On Monday, Jan. 10, the team will face Battle Ground High School, which Tuominen is excited about.
“It’s a lot of fun for the community, the players, the coaches, and the fans to be a part of,” Tuominen said. “It’s what high school sports is all about, being competitive, and being in a fun atmosphere where you get to compete.”