Virus derails Splitters' national championship aspirations

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HARROGATE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Six weeks ago, Lincoln Memorial University head basketball coach Josh Schertz had a pretty good idea what was lying ahead for his team, but there was no way to see what a microscopic virus had in store.

Riding a 32-game win streak and sitting on a No. 1 seed in the Division II NCAA Tournament, the Railsplitters season was cut upended by a global pandemic before it could ever really get started.

"As a coach you're always trying to help these kids. You're trying to solve problems and give solutions and this was a problem that we couldn't resolve. There's no solution to it. Nobody knows what's coming. I couldn't fix it," said Schertz.

The cancellations brought on by the coronavirus shattered the hopes and dreams of seniors who've poured countless hours into their craft.

"Instantly it just kind of hit me and I was losing my mind, like I had to take a long walk around campus to cool off cause I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't want to talk to my parents, my fiance - I was just frustrated - I needed that space because hearing right before we're about to sit here and practice. I had my jersey on, my shoes, stretching and everything - we're ready to go and they just cut it. I was broken. I started crying, I couldn't help myself," said senior Kamaran Calhoun.

"It's okay for our kids to be hurt. It's okay for them to be upset and angry. They get that right. I want to make that very clear. I often see people say well if they're upset then they don't understand. That's not what this is. They get to be upset. It's our job as administrators and coaches to be their support system," said athletic director Jasher Cox.

For many in the program, it's the unknown that hurts the most - the "what could have been".

"If you told me first round, national championship, one hundred percent you're going to lose in this tournament - I can't tell you when - but do you want to play it? I would a thousand times take that instead of not having the opportunity," said Schertz.

"We'll still get rings - we won two conference championships so we'll kind of hold onto that and hold onto our 32-game win streak, however long that lasts and those records will kind of be our standpoint. We thought we were destined for a regional title, a national title so to settle for that is not something you want to do but when you have to you just gotta," said senior guard Anthony Brown.