LEXINGTON - In Wednesday's Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control meeting, they voted to move the high school basketball season start date back to Monday, Jan. 4. The high school basketball season was originally scheduled to start on Monday, Nov. 23. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent rise in positive cases, the KHSAA thought it would best to postpone all winter sports until after the Christmas Break.
"I can't, in clear conscience, recommend that high school basketball games start Monday (Nov. 23)," KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett stated prior to the Board's winter sports discussion.
Tackett also stated that he wanted to make sure basketball had a full season with a culminating event (state tournament), and that spring sports would be guaranteed a full season, since it was cancelled last year. Also, basketball had a full season last year, but both state tournaments were not completed.
After a lengthy discussion about the logistics of moving back winter sports, and what effect it would have on spring sports, the board voted to delay the start of the high school basketball season and shortened it to eight weeks, instead of its usual 14 weeks. District tournaments will start on March 1 and regional tournaments on March 8. The state tournaments are tentatively set for March 17-21 and March 24-28 at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
One of the options considered by the board was a 12-week basketball season that had the state tournament being played the first week of May, which could have pushed the spring sport state tournaments into July. They also talked about maybe starting winter sports on Dec. 14, but many felt like that was too early.
Also, the monetary issue was brought up since the KHSAA reportedly lost about $1.5 million with the cancellation of the 2020 boys state tournament, and most of the girls state tournament was cancelled.
Local basketball coaches gave mixed reactions on the basketball season being pushed back nearly six weeks. Pulaski County High School girls basketball coach Chris Adkins was just happy to get to play basketball this winter, and looked at the extra weeks of practice as a benefit.
"The kids is what is is all about, and I think the kids are going to be a little disappointed," Pulaski County High School girls basketball coach Chris Adkins stated. "But they also have the understanding that all those kids last spring didn't even get to have a season. I think if we can get to Jan. 4, and have some resemblance of a season, and still get our post-season, then we will all be excited."
"They had already pushed back the start of practice by three weeks from our original start date, so we have only had 14 practices," Adkins said. "Do we need more practices? Yes. I was concerned about injuries. If our school system will allow us to continue to practice, with all the protocols we are doing now, that will be better for all teams to prevent injuries. Because it is so important that we get their cores where they need to be."
On the flip side, Somerset High School boys basketball coach Jeron Dunbar did not like the KHSAA's decision to push back the basketball season, and felt it was unfair to the kids and especially the seniors on his team.
"I thought their decision was ridiculous, to be honest," Dunbar fumed. "I think it is terrible that these kids have worked so hard, especially my seniors, since October 26. And then you get to this point and they pull the rug from under you, after they came out last week and said there wasn't any plans for a push back."
"We don't know what January, February and March is going to hold," Dunbar continued. "Who's to say things are going to get better, or things are going to get worse. I don't know, and I hope it works out. I think we should start next week like we had planned on and if we have to cancel games as we go, so be it. If we have to quarantine as we go, so be it. Just give these kids a chance to play. Pushing it back to January 4, they could still come back and move (the season) back some more, and by then you have no season left."
The Board also talked a little bit about the upcoming football playoffs. There has already been 18 teams withdraw from the football playoffs. It was also stated that the playoff brackets would not be changed if future teams dropped out. However, they wanted to have four teams in each Final Four. Therefore, if a third-round winner had to drop out then the losing team would take their place in the semi-state Final Four.
Also, they announced only 7,000 fans would be allowed into Kroger Field for the KHSAA State Football championship games.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.
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