Inside Lord Botetourt’s emotional, final practice after abrupt end to a championship season

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DALEVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — The Lord Botetourt girls’ basketball team earned its second state title in three years, but not in the way the Cavaliers hoped.

They were supposed to play Spotswood at the VHSL Class 3 state championship game on Friday night at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond. But when the league cancelled the tournament in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Lady Cavs took matters into their own hands.

“I was crying, they were crying. It was difficult,” head coach Renee Favaro said. “But then I said, ‘I guess we just go home, I don’t know what we do.'”

Then senior forward Miette Veldman had an idea: one final practice.

If time was going to run out on the Cavaliers’ basketball season, it would be on their terms.

“I knew that I wouldn’t be able to come home today. I was like, let’s just all get together and just have fun for the last time,” Veldman said.

Veldman is one of four seniors on the squad, which was robbed of a chance to compete for a state title.

“They wanted to do this today and be here and spend one last time lacing up those shoes and being together,” Favaro said. “Because our four seniors — they’re remarkable people on and off the floor. And I hate that they didn’t get to put on that Botetourt jersey one last time.”

The final practice of the year ended with a short scrimmage. The team split into two, with seniors making up much of the side that scored 45 points in ten minutes.

“We really left it all out there,” Veldman joked. “I think we played well together and we really just showed out today.”

Parents were invited to the practice session, making up the small, yet supportive crowd in the gym. And then with seconds left, each senior received a moment of gratitude, leaving the court for the last time, one by one.

“I just thought wow, what good kids. What wonderful people I’m surrounded by every single day,” Favaro said. “I told them, they make me a better person. Make me a better coach but more importantly they make me a better person and I love all of them for that.”

And as co-state champs, the team took an obligatory championship picture, serving as visual evidence of the team’s second title in three years.

For Veldman, no virus can erase the memories of four years in a Cavaliers jersey.

“It’s been really special,” Veldman said while holding back tears. “And I don’t think I realize how special it has been.”

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