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‘Curiouser and curiouser’: Jefferson basketball season moves along

By Bob Madison - For the Chronicle | Mar 26, 2021

Jaiden Gladney (15) makes a hard cut to the basket in Jefferson High School’s home game against Musselman High School on Friday. David Pennock

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Changes turn into alterations, and what was thought to be turns into mere illusion, as COVID-19 continues to roil the high school sports’ waters and make murkier any guess as to what the future might bring.

The Jefferson High School boy’s basketball season had already been shaped (or misshaped) by coronavirus happenings, even before any actual games were attempted this school year. There were no games in December. None in January. February brought some hope of at least a partial regular season and probably a postseason of Sectional, Regional and State tournaments.

In many years when normalcy won the day, the Cougars would be facing Silver Oak Academy, Broadfording Academy, St. John’s of Front Royal, Highland View Academy and Idea, before seeing any public schools from West Virginia. There would also be competition with James Wood, Millbrook and Sherando from nearby Virginia.

The private schools were removed from JHS’s severely pared schedule, which didn’t even attempt games unto 2021 came around.

Jefferson met James Wood, Sherando and Millbrook in what appeared to be a partial return to normalcy.

Jayden Wilkie (0) applies defensive pressure in Jefferson High Schools’s win over Musselman High School on Friday. David Pennock

And then “curiouser” poked its ugly head back into the disjointed proceedings.

Virginia reported its winter basketball seasons were to stop on Feb. 22, and that date came before any of its schools played Jefferson. So Jefferson’s games against the Virginia schools couldn’t count.

The Cougars had defeated James Wood and Millbrook and had lost a one-point decision to Sherando.

Therefore the March 17 game scheduled with Hedgesville became the season-opener. And Jefferson defeated the Eagles, 67-48, using well the three “exhibition” games against the Virginia schools.

Led by sophomore Will Shively, guard Daion Taylor, senior Jaden Butts, guard Jaylan Wilkes and Ahmad Lesesne, the Cougars were finally freed from the forced inactivity brought by the various rules and regulations ushered here by the pandemic.

Daion Taylor (1) leaps high to save a ball from going out of bounds in Jefferson High School’s home game against Musselman High School Friday night. David Pennock

Even though it was technically only the second game of the season, next up was Musselman, often one of the area’s more difficult teams to tame.

Jefferson defeated the Applemen, 62-55, on Friday, to bring more than a quick glance at their prospects from other area schools.

Darion Massenburg, Cam Johnson, Jarvis Wright, freshman Jaiden Gladney, Sam Wabnitz, Bradley Prutzman, Peyton Corwine, Trey Barlow and David Haines give the Cougars a full roster of players ready to see if other unforeseen happenings are around the next bend in the oft-curved road this year.

Jefferson has been placed in the newly formed Class AAAA ranks this season. Along with county rival Washington and all four Berkeley County schools — Musselman, Martinsburg, Hedgesville and Spring Mills — the Cougars comprise this area’s Class AAAA schools. Only Hampshire, a longtime Sectional rival when the six other schools were placed in the Class AAA division, was not brought up to the AAAA ranks.

Unless schedules change (again), Jefferson will not play the usual 22 games seen in seasons when the pandemic doesn’t cause a premature ending (early March of 2020) or late beginning (March 2021) to the season.

Alterations should remain in the care of tailors, and illusions in the hands of magicians. If they do, it’s possible basketball could reach the end of the rainbow at the state tournament in Charleston this year.