Basketball tournaments canceled; spring teams allowed to practice
The Minnesota high school winter sports season is over.
On Friday, the Minnesota State High School League canceled what remained of the girls basketball tournament taking place this week at the University of Minnesota in response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. It also called a halt to boys basketball section playoffs as well as the state tournament that was to begin Wednesday, March 18. That’s in addition to Thursday’s MSHSL decision to cancel the state adapted floor hockey tournament that was scheduled Friday and Saturday at Bloomington Jefferson High School.
The MSHSL section speech tournaments scheduled the week of March 15-21 were postponed indefinitely.
“Amid growing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the remainder of the girls state basketball tournament and boys section/state basketball tournaments have been canceled. The safety of all concerned is paramount,” a high school league statement read.
Later Friday, the MSHSL announced spring sports and activities programs will be allowed to practice. They cannot have games, scrimmages or training sessions with teams from other schools until April 6. Spring break training trips will be allowed, but teams can’t scrimmage or train with teams from other schools. Individual schools have discretion to place further restrictions on spring practices.
Local teams affected by the winter sports shutdown include Farmington High School girls basketball, which advanced to the Class 4A championship game that now will not happen. The Tigers defeated St. Michael-Albertville 78-59 in the semifinals Thursday night at Williams Arena in what proved to be the final winter high school sports event of the 2019-20 season. Farmington would have played defending Class 4A champion Hopkins in the finals Saturday night.
The Eastview, Lakeville North and Lakeville South boys basketball teams also saw their seasons end abruptly. Eastview and Lakeville North were to play in the Class 4A, Section 3 championship game Friday night at Farmington High School. Lakeville South and Rochester Mayo were to play for the Class 4A, Section 1 title Friday at Mayo Civic Arena in Rochester.
Minnesota became the 12th state to cancel its high school boys basketball tournament, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Nine states already had completed their tournaments; most of the remainder either have postponed or suspended their tournaments, or are going ahead but restricting attendance. Montana’s tournament is proceeding without attendance restrictions.
Until Friday morning the MSHSL plan was to restrict attendance at girls state basketball and boys section basketball games to players, coaches, staff, news media and a small number of school-approved spectators. Consolation and third-place games for girls basketball had been scratched Thursday.
This is the first cancellation of the Minnesota high school boys basketball tournament, which started in 1913. The first state girls basketball tournament was held in fall 1974; this is the first year it will not play to a conclusion. The Minnesota State High School League took over sponsorship of the adapted floor hockey tournament in 1994 and had held it every year since.
Other amateur sports have been affected by the COVID-19 virus outbreak. On Friday morning, Minnesota Hockey canceled all boys and girls youth state tournaments that were to be held this weekend. USA Hockey on Wednesday canceled national tournaments, including the girls Tier 1 and women’s senior tournaments that were scheduled to be played in Blaine April 2-6.