During a shortened season in a region where families have been “decimated” by COVID-19, Rehoboth Christian School’s varsity boys’ basketball team was mostly just excited about the three extra games they’d get to play by being in the state finals on Friday (May 7). Bringing home the pennant after 43 years was just a bonus for the Rehoboth, N.M. team.
“It’s been a special year with this group of guys and in the community in general,” said coach Kevin Zwiers, who also teaches band at the school.
“A theme of our program is, ‘we use our gifts to serve others; we use our gifts to serve God,’ and this year, playing basketball was a way that we got to use our gifts to bring just little bit of hope, just a little bit of joy, a little bit of light to an otherwise really dark time,” Zwiers said.
“The year has been incredibly difficult,” he said. “Every one of us down here has been touched by the virus—we know somebody who has passed away from the virus.”
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The Lynx played a regular season that spanned only 12 games from March to May. Typically a season is 26 games from November to March. Teams were restricted to playing other schools in just their region before the state tournament, in an effort to limit exposure to the coronavirus. Rehoboth also missed having a junior varsity team this year because of limitations due to the pandemic.
“The state tournament was the first time that we were able to get out of our regions and play other teams,” Zwiers said. The Lynx came into the tournament undefeated and were successful, 55-50, against also undefeated Jal (N.M.) Panthers in the championship game.
Zwiers said the last time the school was in the state finals was 1983, when they finished second. 1977 was the last year the Lynx held the state championship in boys basketball 2A division.
A few weeks ago, late in the regular season, Zwiers shared with the New Mexico Athletics Association a video clip of a game moment that made him proud of the opposing Zuni, N.M., team. The clip circulated on Facebook with the NMAA’s caption “Compete With Class.” The Lynx, who were up by a lot, put in an inexperienced freshman late in the fourth quarter, hoping to help him score. Zwiers said the Zuni team’s coach recognized what was happening and encouraged his team to allow the bucket.
“So much of what our leaders in the NMAA hear is just about the bad stuff and we just wanted to send it in as an example of ‘this is what sports is about … in the midst of a really trying time, here’s a cool moment.’”
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Zwiers has coached the Lynx for 17 years. He’s a member of Bethany Christian Reformed Church in Gallup, N.M. Dan Meester is the team’s assistant coach.