Basketball playoffs are out as NJSIAA pushes back winter season due to COVID spike in Jersey

by Mike Pavlichko

The NJSIAA announced this morning that all Winter sports will start after the New Year – a casualty of the recent spike in COVID cases across New Jersey and nationally – and that no state basketball tournament will be held in 2021.

Basketball – along with fencing and bowling – won’t be allowed to practice until January 11th, with competition taking place from January 26th through March 6th. Previously, basketball was slated to start play in mid-December and run through mid-February.

Wrestling – along with gymnastics and girls volleyball – will begin practice even later, on March first. Competition would start March 16th and run through April 24th.

Ice hockey will begin practice December 14th, competition January 4th, and end play February 17th. Swimming and winter track and field will be allowed to practice starting February 1, with competition spanning February 16th through the 27th of March.

NJSIAA Executive Director Colleen Maguire said in a statement “New Jersey should be proud of its student athletes, coaches, administrators, and all those who make high school sports possible.

“During our fall season, NJSIAA member schools successfully engaged approximately 80,000 student-athletes across 5 sports,” Maguire added. “We will continue working hard to make the winter and spring seasons a success as well. As was the case in the fall, the potential for play is ultimately based on everyone working together to keep our communities safe and healthy.”

The statement from the NJSIAA today said post-season play is “under consideration” and will be determined at a later date “for wrestling, gymnastics and girls volleyball,” pointing out that those are the sports that begin practicing in March.

However, it said there will be no “NJSIAA-sponsored post-season” for any other winter sports.” The release goes on to say that leagues and conferences can hold their own tournaments at their own discretion.

As for Spring sports, the release says “The Sports Advisory Task Force remains committed to providing as complete of a spring season as possible and will release final spring sports plans on or before Friday, December 11, 2020” adding “the spring season is likely to extend through June.”

The entire Spring 2020 season was wiped out by the onset of the COVID outbreak in the U.S. earlier this year.

Maguire and the NJSIAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

In her statement, Maguire added “We remain keenly focused on providing New Jersey’s student athletes with the opportunity to participate in sports, and given current health data and modeling, we believe pushing the schedules back ensures the best opportunity for our kids. The staggered winter schedule is based on feedback from health officials, anticipated capacity limitations as well as the availability of facilities which are used by many of our winter sports.”

While all other Winter sports got pushed back, hockey did not change. Maguire says that’s “due to contractual obligations with rinks and the potential for significant financial repercussions associated with rescheduling ice time.”

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