Cheltenham is still penciled in to meet Mt. Lebanon in a rescheduled second-round game of the PIAA Class 6A boys’ basketball tournament on Thursday at Chambersburg High.
However, Mt. Lebanon officials have relied on advice from the Allegheny County Health Department as to whether to play the Panthers despite exposure to the COVID-19 virus in the Cheltenham community, and the department had already advised the school not to play Wednesday’s game.
So it’s unclear if that recommendation will change for Thursday’s game.
Mt. Lebanon had announced earlier on Wednesday that its team would definitely not participate in a game against Cheltenham because of concerns about the coronavirus.
“Cheltenham will be ready to play the game,” Cheltenham athletic director Suni Blackwell said Wednesday night via text.
The rescheduled game came after discussions between Cheltenham, Mt. Lebanon and PIAA officials following Mt. Lebanon’s announcement early Wednesday afternoon that its team would not participate on Wednesday night.
Mt. Lebanon, a suburban Pittsburgh school in Allegheny County, had issued this statement earlier on Wednesday:
“Our boys basketball team was scheduled to compete against Cheltenham High School’s team on Wednesday, March 11, in Chambersburg as part of the PIAA playoff structure. The Cheltenham School District recently released information about their response to the covid-19 virus because of exposure within their community.
“To reduce or mitigate the possible exposure to their students and staff, the Superintendent of the Cheltenham School District communicated to his community that the Cheltenham School District has closed its schools for the week, suspended field trips through April 13, and are prohibiting outside groups from utilizing its facilities. Although the Cheltenham School District deemed it appropriate to continue participation in the PIAA playoff structure, the Mt. Lebanon School District does not under these circumstances.
“The health and well-being of our students, staff, and community are of the utmost importance to us. After fully considering the totality of the information our District received from the Cheltenham School District, we consulted with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) who advised the District not to participate in the game. After speaking to the PIAA leadership, the Mt. Lebanon School District administration has made the decision to not send our team, coaches, and other personnel to compete in the game. In that we cannot ensure the health and safety of our students, coaches, and community, the District administration could see no other viable scenario to permit our team’s participation.
“The District has communicated its position to the PIAA and is awaiting its response. It is our position that our team should not be disqualified from this game and tournament.
“We extend our support to the Cheltenham School District as it is reported to be dealing with an evolving covid-19 situation.”
Mt. Lebanon (20-6) is the No. 2 seed out of District 7. Cheltenham (24-3) is the No. 2 seed out of District 1.
The winner of the Cheltenham-Mt. Lebanon game is to meet the winner of the Wilson-Lower Merion game in the state quarterfinals.
The status of the Lower Merion vs. Wilson game also uncertain because of concerns over the coronavirus. As of Wednesday night, the PIAA still was listing the game to be played on Thursday but at a site to be determined.