The 2019-2020 Seward boys basketball season was three years in the making. Most of the team consisted of players who grew up playing basketball at the AVTEC gym, and the majority of the team played together for three years at Seward High School.
In the recent past, basketball had not seen much success, but this year's players proved that would change. Not only did they finish the regular season 17-4 and had an 11-game win streak, but also would have qualified for the state tournament for the first time in eight years had it not been cancelled by COVID-19.
With that being said, every player and coach put in the additional effort and hours to find such success this year. As a member of the team, I can affirm that our goal was to play in the Alaska Airlines Center at the end of March, and if it were not for these surreal last two months, we would have been right there. Senior Bjorn Nilsson attests to this by stating, “Just knowing that we qualified for state this year was my favorite memory of this season.”
This year's basketball team was upperclassmen heavy, and for seniors John Moriarty, Bjorn Nilsson, Hunter Hollingsworth, Justin McMurray and myself, we will never have a chance at this dream of ours. However, the unfortunate end to the season does not take away from the success achieved.
In the 2019-2020 season, the boys defeated two teams from the Lower 48, won the Seahawk Classic, which was Coach Plan’s first tournament win as a head coach, and of course as mentioned before, would have qualified for the state tournament. For John Moriarty, this final moment meant a lot. “It was awesome that we qualified for state. We devoted countless hours during the offseason, and it is a bummer we weren’t able to finish this season out.”
Many players would be rewarded for their success as well. Hunter Hollingsworth was selected to the good sport team; Bjorn Nilsson and Sam Koster were awarded second team all-conference; Trey Ingalls made first team all-conference; and I was selected as first team all-conference and third team all-state. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the season belonged to Coach Plan, as he was named Region III Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, and was named the 3A State Coach of the Year.
The 3A Coach of the Year had a few things to say when I asked him about this special season. “To the best of my knowledge, this is one of the best seasons in Seward High School history. These kids earned the right to be at the state tourney, and it is always nice when hard work gets some recognition. It would have been nice to step into the Alaska Airlines Center as a team, but hopefully things can get back to normal so we have a shot to do that next year.” There is a saying that a coach is only as good as his players, but I believe that the team had so much success because of Coach Plan.
Although the team was quite successful, overcoming adversity was the theme of the season. Max Pfeiffenberger suffered a crippling knee injury that kept him off the court for the majority of the season. At the time, he was the leading scorer on the team, and there was a huge hole to fill his presence. Not only did they fill this gap, they managed to win every single game they played while he was gone.
The 2019-2020 Seward boys basketball team certainly was special. They inspired the small community to pack the gym, and every home game was always loud. The players have set the bar for upcoming seasons, and I am sure that the boys basketball program will continue to thrive in Seward for the next years to come.
Connor Spanos graduated from Seward High School this year and has signed a letter of intent to swim for Southwestern Oregon Community College. He wrote for the Seward High School online newspaper this past year.