For the second straight year, COVID-19 has brought an early end to the season for Dalton State College's basketball team.
The college announced due to positive virus tests, contact tracing and quarantining within the program, the team would miss next week's Southern States Athletic Conference tournament, ending its season with no path to the NAIA national championship tournament.
That national tournament was canceled altogether last season due to concerns about the virus — after the Roadrunners had won the SSAC tournament and clinched one of four top seeds in the national tournament.
This year, injuries, postponements and cancellations wreaked havoc on a Roadrunner schedule that ended with a 7-11 record (6-7 SSAC). Dalton State was set to be the third seed in the SSAC's East division and would have opened tournament play against Loyola on Thursday, Feb. 25.
The Roadrunners played much of the year with fewer than 10 available players on the roster with a few players leaving the team or opting out of the season because of the virus. Ten scheduled games in 2020-21 were postponed or canceled because of COVID-19 or the Roadrunners not having enough healthy players to suit up, counting the SSAC tournament game.
Dalton State played through that constant upheaval and an 0-4 start to finish 6-7 in SSAC play, and four of those losses came to the regular season East division champion in Faulkner.
The Roadrunners finished 30-3 last year with a squad of seven seniors, thanks in part to a school-record 17-game win streak. Dalton State was faced this season with breaking in an almost entirely new, short-handed team amid the pandemic.
A bright spot for Dalton State was Marquel Wiggins, a senior transfer forward who led the Roadrunners while scoring an average of 19.9 points per game.