Officials aim to keep tournament going until its conclusion on Saturday
LOVELAND – Coaches’ messages were heard loud and clear and every basketball bounce, basketball slide and muffled chants were amplified on Thursday on opening day of the Class 2A Great 8 Colorado High School Activities Association in a nearly empty Budweiser event center in the Land of Love.
The general public has not been allowed entry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CHSAA announced on Wednesday evening that it would not allow any supporters to participate in the state tournament. The organization changed the decision later that night to allow each player to bring four family members or guests. Shortly after Thursday night’s games ended, the CHSAA announced that the remainder of its state basketball tournaments would be canceled.
State basketball tournaments across the country were called off Thursday in Illinois, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas, and CHSAA officials said they were monitoring the situation closely. the day. The CHSAA also announced Thursday that all spring sports will be suspended until April 6., but the state’s basketball tournaments would continue. That was until the late decision Thursday night.
CHSAA deputy commissioner Justin Saylor, who oversaw the Class 2A tournament at Loveland, said the decision to limit fans to Thursday’s games was in the best interests of the student-athletes.
“We felt it was not just looking for our student-athletes, but also our communities,” Saylor said. “To allow family members who made the trip and who were going to be here to feel that they could be a part of what truly is a special time and event for these students. While it was a tough decision not to let in entire fan bases and communities, it was important for us to make sure we had immediate families and those who made the trip with their students so that we could still be involved. throughout the event. . “
At the Budweiser Events Center, additional signs reminding fans to wash their hands were installed, but there were no additional hand sanitizing stations around the arena.
For Limon’s girls basketball head coach Bart O’Dwyer, seeing a fraction of a normally full fan base was odd. He said the past 24 hours have been hectic, but felt CHSAA made the right decision.
“I’m grateful to have the tournament and not cancel on these kids,” O’Dwyer said after a quarterfinal victory over No. 8 Holly. “We have a lot of seniors on the squad, and so on. was hard on them last night. Today, a year from now, it will be the right or wrong decision, and time will tell. It was really different today. The Limon fan base is really big and they do a great job following us. It’s tough, but that’s what we have to deal with and every team has been dealing with this problem all weekend.
When the CHSAA announced its decision to allow limited participation on Wednesday, Ignacio High School athletic director Leo Garand said the department was on deck from 6:30 a.m. Thursday to spread the word to fans. itinerant.
“Melanie Taylor, Rocco Fuschetto and I got started really early this morning,” Garand said. “We got a ton of phone calls from different people in the community who were looking for updates. We’ve done our best to get the word out with robocalls, voicemails. “
Despite a smaller number than usual, Ignacio fans showed up together. Neoma Quintana, the grandmother of Ignacio Makayla Howell’s senior captain, was happy that the CHSAA kept the tournament going.
“I am really proud of the way we have traveled,” said Quintana. “I just wish we had known that sooner because the number of people coming tonight changed their plans last night. We didn’t have a lot of time to reach people, but we’re glad everyone came. I am happy that the CHSAA has changed its mind.
“At first when they didn’t announce any fans, we kept thinking positively. We thought something was going to change when the girls were so upset. But I think in the end good thoughts prevailed.
Sadly, those good thoughts only lasted Thursday, as state teams will now board the buses to return home on Friday morning.