Leading off today:
With apologies to my friend and former newspaper colleague Scott Pitoniak (more about that below), we're about to play some of the best games you never saw.
The coronavirus outbreak story continued to change almost by the minute on Wednesday at multiple levels. Hours after it was announced that the NCAA Tournament would be held in front of crowds limited to little more than a few family members, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced Wednesday night that it would bar fans from attending the conference basketball tournament beginning Thursday.
In the pro ranks, the Golden State Warriors were among the teams told by local authorities to not allow fans at home games andhours later the NBA suspended its season. The Seattle Mariners were ordered to make new arrangements for early-season home games and multiple other franchises were reading plans to play in empty arenas.
Closer to home, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced that fans would not be able to attend its hockey final fours this weekend in Buffalo. That decision came in the aftermath of Tuesday's revisions to the postseason basketball schedule.
The NYSPHSAA announcement said the decision about the weekend's six hockey games followed a recommendation from the Erie County Department of Health.
"This is certainly not the type of championship atmosphere our association strives to provide our student-athletes and their communities," Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA, said in a statement. "This decision is being made at the recommendation of the Erie County Department of Health out of an abundance of caution as we address the coronavirus."
"I know it's something the world is dealing with right now, but we're dealing with a hockey game and we are just thankful they didn't cancel the whole thing and we are still playing," Webster Thomas coach David Evans said.
The games will be streamed live by the NFHS Network.
Wednesday's update from the NYSPHSAA said the state bowling championships at AMF Strike 'N Spare in Syracuse will go on as scheduled. The NYSPHSAA said it has received no concerns or communications from the State or local health departments pertaining to Onondaga County.
NYSPHSAA basketball: Wednesday did not bring about any major changes to the state tournament, although the first-round girls game between Ursuline and Monroe-Woodbury scheduled for Wednesday was postponed pending guidance from state and local health agencies.
Other early-round locations have been revised because of facility availability. The changes included six games being played Wednesday in empty high school gyms except for school administrators and committee members:
- Class AA boys: Horace Greeley at Newburgh Free Academy
- Class B boys: Marlboro at Putnam Valley
- Class C boys: Pine Plains at Alexander Hamilton
- Class AA girls: Ursuline at Monroe-Woodbury
- Class B girls: Hastings at Marlboro
- Class C girls: Millbrook at Haldane
"We've been advised to close the doors and we will," Section 9 Executive Director Greg Ransom said. "Only essential personnel are going to be let in. Right now, we've been advised to keep as few people in the gym as possible.”"
The six games were originally scheduled for SUNY New Paltz and Mount Saint Mary College, but those schools bowed out.
The last time that a Section 9 team played a state-tournament game in an empty gym was March 6, 2005, when Burke Catholic and Kennedy Catholic resumed a suspended contest that was halted due to a fight between the two teams.
• Two girls state tournament games scheduled for Sunday at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue will need to be relocated after the school canceled all on-campus activities for the remainder of the week.
Baldwin is scheduled to play Northport in the Class AA quarterfinals. Locust Valley will face Westhampton in Class A.
A day earlier, SUNY Farmingdale pulled out of hosting two boys basketball games scheduled for Sunday. Elmont against Amityville in Class A and Baldwin vs. Brentwood in Class AA are quarterfinals in search of a new venue.