The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association on Thursday announced the suspension of the boys’ and girls’ basketball state tournaments for at least two weeks as a precautionary measure because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The organization, which oversees high school sports in Pennsylvania, said the state boys’ and girls’ Class 2A swimming and diving championships would be suspended for at least two weeks as well.
“PIAA, by enforcing a two-week hiatus from our basketball and AA swimming and diving championships, believes this action will allow schools time to perform self-assessments and make decisions to promote optimal heath conditions in their communities,” the PIAA said in a statement on Thursday.
PIAA executive director Robert Lombardi said in the statement, “The Board of Directors are committed to promoting an environment of healthy athletic competition that is consistent with current health department and the Center for Disease Control guidelines.”
The PIAA sports medicine committee will meet this week for further discussions, the organization said.
The Class 3A swimming and diving championships are expected to finish Thursday at Bucknell University with “limited spectators,” the PIAA said.
If and when the tournaments resume, the PIAA said modifications would include limiting team and spectator parties, health re-certification by authorized medical professionals, and changes to game-day procedures.
The PIAA said additional direction will be provided to schools in the coming days.
The basketball state tournaments in six classes in both boys’ and girls’ competition have reached the quarterfinal round, meaning there are eight teams remaining in each of the fields. The quarterfinals were supposed to be held this weekend, with the semifinals early next week and the state finals set for March 19-21 in the Giant Center in Hershey.
Tentatively, play is scheduled to begin again March 27 and the state finals would be April 2-4, although there’s no assurance the tournaments will be resumed.
Several area teams have advanced to the quarterfinals, with several intriguing matchups that were scheduled for this weekend. That included Methacton vs. Roman Catholic in a widely anticipated battle as well as fan-favorite Chester vs. Reading in the Class 6A boys’ tournament.
“We will continue our journey and keep working to get better," Roman Catholic coach Matt Griffin said via text. “These things are out of our control, we will stay positive and embrace the opportunity to get better.”
Methacton coach Jeff Derstine said he understood the decision.
“We will continue to prepare the best that we can for our quarterfinal matchup with Roman Catholic within the guidelines that we are provided with on a day-to-day basis,” Derstine said. “Our coaching staff and players will remain focused on our goal of competing for a state championship until the season is officially over.”
Two other local boys’ teams, Cheltenham and Lower Merion, are still alive in the Class 6A field, as their second-round games have yet to be played.
In Class 5A, West Chester East is scheduled to play Ches-Mont League rival Unionville in the quarterfinals while Archbishop Wood and Archbishop Ryan also have advanced to the Elite Eight, where they are scheduled to meet teams from other sections of the state.
In Class 4A, three-time reigning state champion Imhotep Charter as well as Bonner-Prendergast and Pope John Paul II have reached the quarterfinals. In Class 3A, Neumann Goretti of the Philadelphia Catholic League and High School of the Future of the Philadelphia Public League have won their first two state games.
In Class 2A, reigning state champion Math, Civics & Sciences has a game scheduled with another Philadelphia-area squad in Dock Mennonite, while Constitution has advanced as well. And in Class 1A, reigning state champion Sankofa Freedom and Chester Charter are still alive in the tournament.
Among the local girls’ teams that have advanced in their respective state tournaments are Cardinal O’Hara and Plymouth Whitemarsh in Class 6A; Villa Maria, Archbishop Carroll, and Archbishop Wood in 5A; Bonner-Prendergast in 4A; West Catholic and Imhotep Charter in 3A; and Jenkintown in 1A.
“I feel really bad for the seniors,” Neumann Goretti boys’ basketball coach Carl Arrigale said. “Hopefully, they can get the chance to finish this.”