“We really had a shot we believed” – Hickory’s Mele reflects on what could’ve been for Hornets


Head coach Chris Mele's team went undefeated in Region 5 play and were just two wins away from the Class 4A State Championship game before the season was officially cancelled Thursday.

HERMITAGE, Pennsylvania (WKBN) – Local high school athletes in Western PA are still processing Thursday’s news that all winter and spring sports are officially cancelled for the rest of the school year.

The Hickory boys basketball team was one of four remaining in Mercer County and just two wins away from the State Championship.

“There’s not many times when you can put a team together that we have,” said Chris Mele, Hickory head coach. “We really had a shot we believed.”

Coach Mele’s team went undefeated in Region 5 play, rolling off 24 wins and about to play Grove City in the Class 4A Quarterfinals. Then abruptly the season was postponed on March 12th and Mele hasn’t seen his team since.

“That’s been the toughest part of this is not being able to see the kids,” said Mele. “We did one video conference but it’s just not the same.”

Up until this week, the Hornets were still holding on to a sliver of hope that things might change, when the decision to cancel officially came down Thursday.

“When we heard the news we were all crushed,” said Mele. “I mean I knew it was probably coming down but it was just so final. You get that final news, then you start reflecting and I know Thursday night I tossed and turned all night long. But this is much bigger than sports and our kids really get that.”

The Hornets graduate four seniors and at least three of them are playing basketball at the collegiate level. That includes All State point guard Donald Whitehead, who’s number two on the school’s all-time scoring list with over 1,800 career points. Coach Mele said that next year’s team will have some extra motivation.

“We’re going to have the theme of winning it for our seniors from last year,” said Mele. “We’re going to go out there and work hard this summer whenever we can get in the gym. I also want to get our team together next year during our season at one of our games and really celebrate them.”

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