BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - The 2019-20 Bluefield boys basketball senior class has been through it all together.
"We've been all playing together since we were so little," senior Kaulin Parris said.
"Travel ball, Ice ball, Myrtle Beach -- AAU," assistant coach Tony Webster listed. "We just knew this group could be special."
These nine seniors didn't just have the talent, but the drive to prove a point. Particularly after the way the 2018-19 season finished.
"We had a chip on our shoulder for sure," Parris admitted. "Getting beat by 40 in the state tournament makes you want to get back there and compete again."
The early part of the season was a gauntlet. After starting the campaign with on overtime win against Wyoming East, the Beavers played the next 13 games away from the Brushfork Armory.
Along the way, the team fell to Princeton, Chapmanville and Shady Spring.
"Those three losses were the best thing that ever happened to us, in my opinion," Parris said. "When you're undefeated, you think you're above everybody else, but two or three losses keeps you humble and makes you work even harder."
That's exactly what they did. Following a mid-January loss to Shady Spring, Bluefield ripped off 14-straight victories.
"Defense," senior Tyrese Hairston said plainly. "We switched our defense and nobody saw it the whole season."
"Our starters -- they start clicking -- they knew their role," recalled Webster. "We just started being a good basketball team right there at the end of the stretch. That's why it's very disappointing we're not going to be able to showcase what we're all about."
On March 12, the WVSSAC postponed the girls state basketball tournament, as well as the remaining boys regional games.
It was the night the Beavers were scheduled to play Independence for a shot at the state tournament.
"It was bad," Webster said with a head shake. "I think I got the call from Coach [Buster] Large."
"We get down to the cafeteria and I was looking on Twitter and it said all games have been postponed and the girls state tournament was cancelled," Parris remembered. "I was like -- this can't be true."
But, it was true. All team activities -- including practices -- were postponed the following day.
"There was nothing we could do," head coach Buster Large said. "It was out of our hands. We just told them hopefully we would be back in touch in the next week or so and maybe get this thing going back -- but neither one worked out."
On April 21, the West Virginia high school basketball postseason was officially cancelled.
"That right there was almost the straw that broke the camel's back," Webster admitted. "Because, these kids I'm with every day -- been with them all their life -- you take this away from them. It's just tough, it's just tough."
"We thought we all were going to play," Hairston said. "We thought we were going to be around each other again -- because everybody's going off to college. We thought we were going to be around each other one last time."
The senior class finished with an overall record of 87-15. During that stretch, the program notched four sectional championships, as well as four region co-final victories.
But, there is no doubt, this group wanted a shot at the ultimate prize.
"We were talking about how our picture should be on the wall," Hairston grinned. "That's all we really wanted -- a championship -- picture on the wall."
"I coached them down here at this [rec center] when they were 5 or 6 years old," Webster chuckled. "We had groomed these kids to win a state championship. That was our goal."
The possibility of what could have been still stings. But, one thing is certain -- this Beaver bunch won't soon be forgotten.
"This is my second family," Parris said. "I just thank God for all these great people in my life. The teammates I had were great -- they were literally my brothers."
"I can't tell you how much these young men meant to me, what great kids they were -- role models for the school. They just represented Bluefield High School so great in many, many ways."
"They do things the right way, and when you do things the right way -- good things are going to happen -- beyond sports," Webster said. "These kids right here, they're going to be great people -- great people in society."