PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Fifteen minutes before the governor gave his Tuesday COVID briefing, the Illinois High School Association learned its basketball season was put on hold.
The Illinois Department of Public Health moved youth basketball from a moderate to a high risk sport. The classification means teams can’t play games or even have an intraquad scrimmage.
It means no contact practices. The news comes just three weeks before the scheduled Nov. 16 start to the high school basketball season.
“Obviously we have to be safe and we have to do what’s best for the kids,” Washington High School girls basketball coach Kim Barth said. “But we have kids that are working towards their future and college scholarships, and for that to be taken away, it’s just sad. So I really hope we can find a way to just let the kids play.”
The IHSA is scheduled to make an announcement on its guidelines for winter sports Wednesday. In a statement, the IHSA says its board of directors will still meet “to provide direction on other winter sports and discuss the sports schedule the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
“I think if everybody does it right, I think that we can (play),” Richwoods girls basketball coach Todd Hursey said. “And we can prove to the (Center for Disease Control), the health department and the state, that if everybody is doing it right and doing the wellness checks and doing all of that, then there’s no reason two groups can’t come together in a gym and be safe.”
Prep basketball teams have been practicing in masks for months are were preparing to start the season in masks.
“I feel that the IHSA is doing everything they can to give us a season if there can be some kind of a season,” Brimfield girls basketball coach Maribeth Dura said. “So we are hoping for the best and yeah, the girls just want to play.”
The IHSA met with the IDPH last Friday to share a plan on having interscholastic sports this winter.
“We remain considerate of the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases in our state,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson in a statement. “However, in our meeting with IDPH, we felt that we presented multiple options that would allow for basketball to be conducted safely by IHSA schools this winter, many of which are being utilized in neighboring states who plan to play high school basketball.”
Now coaches, players, parents and fans await a Wednesday decision from the IHSA on what to do next.
“A delayed start or a pushed back start or a change in season and a time of when we would play would certainly still give us some motivation to continue to be in the gym,” said Elmwood boys basketball coach Josh Fugitt. “And I know these guys would utilize that time to make sure that that they continue to prepare for whenever they would get to play.”