W.Va. Hoop Tournies, Spring Sports Canceled

WHEELING — The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission officially announced on Tuesday that the high school boys’ and girls’ basketball tournaments, along with all spring sports, have officially been canceled for the 2019-20 season.

That news came just several hours after W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice announced that all in-person preK-12 classes were canceled for the remainder of the year.

“We’ve known for a long time that this was probably the outcome, just because of the progress that was being made throughout the state,” WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan said. “We were just hoping that there was going to be a chance.

“It’s just difficult because you know what these kids and coaches have gone through to get to this position and for the seniors, they are losing that last chance.

“One thing about high school athletics is that for some, it’s their last chance to participate. Some will be able to play at the next level but for others, they are going to be left with an empty feeling of loss. It feels like it’s your right (to play your senior year) and the virus just overtook everything and that is the saddest thing of all.”

Information regarding a three-week summer period in preparation for next season will be provided at a later date.

“According to our rules, the counties set the three-week window. It can be any three weeks from the end of baseball to the beginning of football,” Dolan said. “But, they have to be consecutive. Almost everybody put their three weeks in June, so they have to decide if we can still be in those three weeks and if we can’t, then the counties might want to move those into July. But each county has the right to identify what three weeks they have.

“So, we’ll try to get back on schedule and get some normalcy for the summer-period but it’s just really difficult.”

It was only a matter of time before it became official, but as the news spread, the heartache felt by players, coaches, families and fans could not be denied.

“When you hear Gov. Justice announce the schools were closing, you knew that extra-curricular activities would follow soon,” Wheeling Park basketball coach Michael Jebbia said. “It’s still an empty feeling.”

Jebbia and his Patriots, along with the Wheeling Central and Magnolia boys’ basketball teams, earned regional titles to advance to a state tournament that never tipped off.

It’s the first time since 1914 that there will not be a boys’ basketball state champion and the first time since 1976 for the girls.

“We’re upset that we didn’t get to finish our season but you have to understand what is going on with the world,” Jebbia said. “I feel horrible for our seniors (Alex Vargo, Travis Zimmerman and Xavier Morris). They all had really good seasons. We haven’t had three seniors produce like that in a long time.

“It was our first regional title since 2012 and the regional title was probably our biggest win in our gym that I can remember.”

As for baseball, softball, tennis and track — those athletes won’t even get a taste of action this season and seniors will miss out on one final opportunity to finish their careers on their terms.

“I’m upset that we didn’t finish our tournament but just think about how spring sports kids are feeling,” Jebbia said. “They aren’t going to get to play one game. I can’t imagine what they are feeling.”

Tyler Consolidated’s baseball team has three seniors in Gage Huffman, Creed Ammons and Braden Rine, who are all feeling the pain of losing their final campaign.

“We have a great group of kids who come from good families and they understand the situation but it’s devastating for our three seniors,” Tyler baseball coach Rob Jones said. “Gage was a starter his freshman year when we made the regional final and he has senior talent.

“He’s pitched a no-hitter and he is a team leader for us. He is taking it especially hard but they all understand the situation and that the overall safety of everyone comes first.”


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