In this Tuesday, March 14, 2017 photo, Herbert Hoover High School boys basketball coach Josh Daniel speaks with his players during high school basketball practice in Charleston, W.Va.. Nine months after floods destroyed their high school in Clendenin, the boys team has advanced to the state tournament for the first time in school history. (AP Photo/John Raby)
Their school was destroyed, but they still made the state tournament
March 20, 2017
Last summer flooding destroyed Herbert Hoover high school in West Virginia. Because of the flooding, the boys' basketball team spent the season practicing and competing in unfamiliar places.
The team will end this season in a place they have never been before. That is the state tournament.
Herbert Hoover struggled through the regular season with a losing record. Then the team put together four straight wins in the postseason. They included a double-overtime thriller in the regional final. Herbert Hoover advanced to the 104-year-old tournament. This was for the first time in school history.
Now the Huskies are ready for what they hope will be one final incredible road show.
With the destruction from the floods still weighing heavily on the community, the Huskies (13-13) opened tournament play March 16 at the Charleston Civic Center. They were to play defending champion Fairmont Senior.
"Nobody expected this out of us," senior center Chase King said.
Playing basketball was an afterthought last June in the community of 1,200. It is about 20 miles northeast of Charleston. The Elk River rose 10 feet high in some buildings. It destroyed bridges. It ripped homes from their foundations. Six people in Kanawha (KUH-naw) County died. Statewide, 23 were killed.
Herbert Hoover coach Josh Daniel said every student was directly affected or had a relative whose home flooded. Members of the basketball team joined other volunteers to help in the community.
King said the floods got into the second floor of an uncle's house. He spent a week removing furniture from a woman's home. He pressure-washed and sanitized other places. Senior guard Kody McGraw went with a church group. They cleaned storm victims' homes. They removed debris from the school's mud-caked baseball field.
The Herbert Hoover school building was condemned. Daniel and the basketball team never got to see the damage. They weren't allowed back in. They only saw the buckled floor of the gymnasium from photographs.
"Just seeing those pictures, so many memories washed down the drain," King said.
Those memories are being replaced by greater ones.
Herbert Hoover students assembled in a temporary home when school started last fall. They attended afternoon classes at a middle school. It is nine miles away. Donations poured in for uniforms and equipment for the school's sports teams. And parents carpooled the basketball team to morning practices at a YMCA in Charleston. Their home games were held at the middle school gym.
"Our kids don't complain about it," Daniel said.
Daniel said he hasn't mentioned the flood to his players since the season started. King said the devastation "was just more motivation to go out and show everybody we may not be the best team that you're going to play. But we're definitely going to be the toughest."
Getting to the tournament "just seems surreal, really," McGraw said. "A lot of people want to see us do good."
That includes Diane Chandler. She is the owner of an income tax and bookkeeping service. It is in Clendenin. The floodwaters rose more than 5 feet up her walls. It took four months for her to clean up and reopen her business.
"I think it's wonderful that they've rallied back like that," Chandler said. "It makes us say that if they can do it, anybody can do it."
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why was the building condemned rather than repaired?
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