State championships for basketball, bowling and ice hockey have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NYSPHSAA announced Monday morning.
In its statement, the NYSPHSAA says input from the state’s 11 sections, CDC’s recommendation to limit mass gatherings, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s declaration of a state emergency among the major factors.
“It is with great disappointment that we make the decision to cancel the remaining winter championship events,” said NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas. “Our association’s focus is to benefit students through participation in interscholastic athletics and unfortunately this rapidly developing situation has prevented our association from providing a quality championship experience. We certainly sympathize for the students who are being impacted by this crisis but at this time they deserve honesty from the leadership of our association.”
The NYSPHSAA’s statement adds that plans are being developed to formally recognize the student-athletes and teams who were set to participate in the remaining state championships.
NYSPHSAA'S has held a boys basketball state tournament every year since 1978, a girls basketball tournament every year since 1981, and a hockey tournament every year since 1980. This is the first time state champions will not be crowned in each of those sports.
Among them is the Weedsport varsity basketball team, which claimed the Section III Class C title earlier this month, the program’s first section title since 1980. The Warriors were next supposed to play Section IV champion Newfield in the Class C state quarterfinal.
Skaneateles hockey’s bid for a second straight Division II state title is also cut short. The Lakers defeated Whitesboro in the Section III Division II championship to qualify for the state tournament for the fifth time in six years. In the state quarterfinals, Skaneateles defeated Section VI’s Starpoint. The Lakers were scheduled to play Section V’s Webster Thomas in the state semifinal at the HarborCenter in Buffalo March 14.
The decision to cancel the remaining winter high school championships is only the latest in a tumultuous few weeks for sports in New York state. As concern over coronavirus grew, the NYSPHSAA was originally going to play its remaining games without spectators in attendance, but that quickly evolved into the decision to postpone all games on March 12.
There is no update on the status of spring sports, as the NYSPHSAA leaves those determinations up to its individual sections and school districts. Cayuga County declared a state of emergency March 16, and all schools in the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES system are closed until at least April 13. Sports will not be played if school is not in session.
Regarding NYSPHSAA spring championships, the state association says a decision will be made on or prior to Monday, April 27.
Sports reporter Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.
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