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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

KHSAA pushes back start of high school basketball due to Covid-19

Sam Vinson, FTM file. 

With the recent rise in Covid-19 cases recently, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association has pushed back the start of the basketball seasons.

“I really can’t in clear conscience tell you that I think it’s a good idea for our member schools to start playing official games this coming Monday,” said KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett. 

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“I know there will be parents upset. That’s OK. I know there will be coaches upset. There will be kids upset.”

The first games of the regular season will be played Jan. 4. District tournaments will start March 1 and region tournaments begin March 8. The other winter sports in swimming and diving, wrestling, competitive cheer and dance will also start their competitions Jan. 4. The board decision does not affect bowling. 

The tentative dates for the Sweet 16 Tournaments are March 17 through 21 and March 24 through 28. But there are some conflicts at Rupp Arena with the dates March 24 through 28 so the KHSAA will figure that out in the coming days and weeks.

"My number one priority is the safety of my student-athletes and my coaches," said Wes Caldwell, Highlands Director of Athletics. "So if the people smarter than me agree that it is going to be a better opportunity for them to be safe or get a season, I'm all for it. Our coaches and student-athltes have bee going a good job of audibling on the fly. As they adjust to the COVID lifestye, I expect they'll change and get going."

The Highlands girls basketball team had its first game scheduled for Nov. 23 at Scott County. The first game on the schedule after Jan. 4 is Jan. 5 at Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati.

"We have practice later on this evening so we'll have a discussion about it," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands girls basketball head coach. "That's the outlook that we have to have. We're lucky they're going to give us somewhat of a season. My heart feels for those spring sports last year because they didn't have anything. We'll have to do the best with what we have."

Richey said she'll have to wait to see what the administrators with the Fort Thomas Independent School District decide to do in terms of practices. She said her biggest challenge will be figuring out what will be best for the players. She does not want to see the girls burnt out, but wants them to be ready to go in January.

Highlands sophomore Alyssa Harris has experienced the cancellation of track and field as a freshman. But Harris then experienced shortened cross country and soccer seasons in the fall and now has to deal with the basketball delay as a sophomore.

"It's definitely really hard to stay motivated knowing that our end goal keeps getting pushed back and there is a reality that we may not get a season," Harris said. "But I think especially with cross country and soccer this year, it really let us know everyone is doing the best that they can to make sure we get as much of a season that we can."

The Highlands boys basketball team had holiday tournaments scheduled at home and in Georgetown and Hopkinsville. But it is looking like the first games will be in the Class 2A sectional tournaments against Pendleton County on Jan. 5. Their first game was scheduled for Nov. 28 at home against Dixie Heights. Highlands Head Coach Kevin Listerman pointed out the KHSAA did not set a limit on games for the season.

"Schools are going to be in similar situations. Teams that we had scheduled early, we will probably move them to the latter part of our schedule and fill it out from there," Listerman said. "I don't anticipate there being an issue finding games."

Listerman said the biggest thing with missing the holiday tournaments is it will be harder for some of the players to receive state-wide recognition. He said the freshman team is set and the coaching staff has made decisions on players not playing football in terms of the varsity and junior varsity teams. But when football season ends, those players will have their tryouts.

Rickey and Listerman received some clarification on Practice a day later. It stopped for all indoor sports on Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. and can resume on Dec. 14. That affects the basketball, bowling, competitive cheer, dance, wrestling and swimming and diving teams at Highlands. School facilities are off limits during this time as well.

"We'd been running and staying in shape in the weight room getting ready for the season too," said Zach Barth, Highlands junior guard. "We're all going to have to find time on our own like at the armory or with home workouts. It's your health. Why risk your health?"

After a week-long delay in the football playoffs last week, the rest of the schedule will resume this week. Tackett did not express as much concern with football because it is outdoors.

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