As I walked into the nearly empty gym at Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School I was wondering what the energy would feel like ahead of one of the biggest rivalries in the Tri-Valley League. I can tell you it was far from ordinary.

I immediately recalled from my memory the same game being played a little more than a year ago. It was Notre Dame Men's Varsity Basketball versus Whitesboro's squad and the gym was buzzing with excitement and the constant roar of a crowd made up of parents, classmates and friends. It was a stark contrast to the environment for this evening's rematch.

Martin Nemecek is the Athletic Director at Notre Dame High School. He was one of the few bodies in the gymnasium Tuesday evening to witness what would have normally been a marquee game.

Nemecek says, "It's part of the culture right now. We live stream the games so parents can watch at home." He added, "The crowd noise is fun to have and definitely missed." Safety is the top priority and at the very least the kids get to play. Nemecek and Notre Dame Principal Roy Kane, along with leaders in other schools, have taken abundant caution in keeping the kids safe at all costs.

It was an almost eerie feeling to hear clearly every word the coaches, other players on the bench and referees were saying. On the flip side of that, it was refreshing to know that the passion these student athletes have never waivers. The chants of "Defense" and other encouraging rally cries that would usually come from the stands were clearly heard from each of the team's bench. In a time where COVID-19 has caused a considerable amount of negativity, it was refreshing to see young students doing what they love and getting back to some form normalcy. Hopefully, more and more restrictions will ease and the fans can return to the stands.

A crowd would have enjoyed Tuesday's back and forth contest between the two teams, but ultimately Notre Dame would be victorious in the contest. The final score was 60-56 and the top scorers for Notre Dame were Mohamed Mogano and Levi Spina with 14 points.

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