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Tuesday, March 24, 2020: NYSPHSAA won't resume its winter championships

   Leading off today: The New York State Public High School Athletic Association on Monday made the announcement that most had come to assume was inevitable, canceling the remainder of the postseason for winter sports.

   The announcement came following consultations between NYSPHSAA executives and top administrators at the sectional level in the face of mounting evidence that the disruption to society as a whole and the school year in particular is not going to end in a timely fashion.

   According to the NYSPHSAA announcement, contributing factors in the decision included the evolving coronavirus threat, ongoing restrictions on large gatherings, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's declaration of a state emergency, President Trump's declaration of a national emergency and input from the 11 sections.

   "This is one of the most difficult decisions the officers of the NYSPHSAA have ever had to make," NYSPHSAA President Paul Harrica said in a statement. "It has been determined it is not feasible for the Winter State Championships to be hosted in a safe and beneficial way for the participating student-athletes and their teams in the near future. The health and safety of the students we serve will always be our top priority."

   The NYSPHSAA was down to the semifinals in boys ice hockey and the quarterfinals in boys and girls basketball. The state bowling championships also were not conducted.    "We certainly sympathize with the students who are being impacted by the crisis but at this time they deserve honesty from the leadership of our association," said Robert Zayas, the executive director of the NYSPHSAA.

   Said Shenendehowa boys basketball coach Tony Dzikas: "You knew this was coming. They canceled the NCAA Tournament, the NBA season was postponed and put on pause. You knew high school basketball would definitely be next. The disappointment ... I was disappointed a week and a half ago. You look around and you see healthcare professionals struggling to help people put beds in hospitals and (people) wondering where their next paycheck is coming from because they lost their job. I think it is time we put this into perspective of what is really important at this moment."


   Added Putnam Valley girls basketball coach Kristi Dini: "We're home. We're quarantined. We're healthy. This situation is bigger than basketball."

   The NYSPHSAA said plans are being developed to recognize the students and teams that qualified to participate in championship events but didn't get to finish the season."

    • For perspective on just how fluid the situation has been since late-February, recall how advisories and restrictions imposed by government agencies changed so quickly. Within days in early March, plans went from conducting contests as usual to holding them in gyms with no spectators to being postponed pending changes in venues. That was followed in short order by tournaments being suspended.

   The Woodlands boys and girls bowling teams that qualified for the NYSPHSAA tournament were on a bus approaching Syracuse when coach Sam Washington received a call informing him to return home because the


event had just been postponed.

   "At this point, so many things are changing so quickly,' Washington said.

   Spring sports still unsettled: The NYSPHSAA announcement dealt almost exclusively with the decision on handling the suspended winter sports season, but the organization also acknowledged that there is a looming decision facing sections and the state boy on spring sports.

   The NYSPHSAA reiterated that sections and schools are individually determining their projected start dates, but the state office set April 27 as the date on which it expects to determine the status of championship events for spring sports.

   On the move: Former Cooperstown basketball star Tyler Bertram revealed last week that he intends to transfer from University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

   Bertram appeared in 12 games in his redshirt freshman season. He averaged 9.3 minutes, 0.6 points and 0.8 rebounds per game.

   Bertram cited a desire to play somewhere with a more up-tempo style and hopefully move closer to home so that his family could attend games.

   No place to go for now: The story is about a junior-college player' status, but it also reflects something that has become an issue for high school juniors and seniors: Making college visits is not a realistic option for now and probably through the end of the spring -- if not longer.

   Former West Genesee basketball player Malik Zachery, who boosted his recruiting profile substantially with a year of prep school ad two seasons in junior college, has Division I scholarship offers and no opportunity to make visits.

   The 6-foot-2 guard is at home in Syracuse, forced to leave Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida., due to the coronavirus pandemic.

   "We really don't know how this is all going to work right now," Zachery said. "This is a 'dead period' anyway. It ends April 15. I just hope (the date) stays April 15 and I can start taking visits so we can get this process going."

   Zachery, recovering from hand surgery following a cooking accident that ended his season in December, has offers from California, Fresno State, Mississippi, Nebraska, and several others. He's heard from Iona, Nevada, and Texas.

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