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Harrison Central, Bridgeport Pause Girls Basketball

The Bridgeport and Harrison Central girls basketball programs have officially pushed the pause buttons on their current seasons.

Both the Bulldogs and Huskies are shutting down just their girls teams for two weeks as each team has one player with a case of coronavirus, which has led to the need for the remainder of the team members to quarantine for two weeks.

Bridgeport has yet to play a game and is actually embarking on its second shutdown.

All told, the Bulldogs have had multiple players test positive for the virus since practice began on Oct. 23.

Bridgeport returned from its first shutdown on Nov. 23 and practiced throughout last week with hopes to play its first game tonight at Shadyside.

Unfortunately, one of the Bulldog players experienced some symptoms and a test came back positive.

“Sports and athletes are creatures of habits and usually, during the season, it’s go to practice each day and if you don’t practice, you play a game,” Bridgeport head coach and Athletics Director Greg Harkness said. “Unfortunately, we’ve been thrown for a loop.”

Bridgeport’s quarantine actually began on Nov. 28, meaning it will be cleared to return to the floor on Dec. 14.

“I feel bad for all of the kids,” Harkness said. “Sports are something sort of normal, but this just simply isn’t a normal time. And every school and team is in the same boat. This can happen to anyone.”

Harkness is actually unsure when his team will make its debut. Upwards of seven games could be impacted by the shutdown.

Originally scheduled to have half of their season completed by the time the calendar flips to 2021, Harkness foresees a chance his team may only have two or three games in.

“We’re not making any excuses,” Harkness said. “We just look at it as another hurdle and whenever we are able to finally take the court, we’ll look at that as an accomplishment in its way. I hate breaking it down that way, but sometimes you have no other choice.”

Along with the Shadyside game, other games definitely impacted are Monroe Central, Frontier, Toronto, Beallsville and River. The Bellaire game, which is scheduled for Dec. 17, is in question.

“We’re basically going to have to rebuild the entire first half of our schedule,” Harkness said. “You can only play so many games in a week and when we come back, it’ll be about time for Christmas and New Year’s, which include some days off, obviously.”

None of the Bridgeport games affected have been rescheduled at this point.

“We’re just going to roll with the punches,” Harkness said. “I’ve told the other schools when they mention possible dates that I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because if a new obstacle pops up, I don’t want to have to reschedule something again and you’re constantly changing dates.”

Despite the current obstacles, Bridgeport remains committed to having a season.

“We want to give the kids every opportunity we can,” Harkness said. “We want to try and play as many games we can, however many that ends being.”

Harrison Central, meanwhile, received official word of a positive test within its program on Monday and immediately sprung into action.

Games affected by the shutdown included Monday’s game with St. Clairsville, Union Local, Martins Ferry and Bellaire.

On top of four Buckeye 8 games, the Huskies also lost out on the opportunity to play in the Wheeling Hospital Women’s Health event, which they were scheduled to host on Saturday.

This marks the first major COVID-19 related athletic issue for Harrison Central, which continues to have in-person instruction five days a week. The Huskies did have their home playoff football game go down as a no contest when Rootstown had to withdraw from the postseason due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We’ve dealt with some little things here and there,” Director of Athletics Ray Hibbs said. “It’s definitely day by day and you come to work wondering what’s going to happen next.”

Similar to Bridgeport, Harrison Central hopes to reschedule as many of those affected games as possible.

“We’re trying to get them back,” Hibbs said.

The boys basketball, wrestling, bowling and junior high basketball teams are unaffected and will continue as scheduled. But, Hibbs keeps going back to his day-by-day rationale.

“The fall (sports) season went really smoothly for us, but Harrison County has really had a rise in cases of late and obviously as the weather changes and you get into the ‘flu season,’ it’s going to be more challenging.”

As for the aforementioned multi-team event the Huskies were scheduled to host this weekend, Harrison Central was willing and able to host the remaining games, which were Steubenville vs. Tusky Valley, Indian Creek vs. Shadyside and Union Local vs. Fort Frye.

“We made a commitment to host the event and decided to move forward as scheduled,” Hibbs said.

However, as Wednesday went along, a couple of the schools expressed concern about playing at Harrison because of the circumstances and opted to pull out of the event.

The Indian Creek and Shadyside as well as the Union Local and Fort Frye games will be played as scheduled, but they’ll be played at Shadyside and Fort Frye, respectively.

Hibbs couldn’t confirm the status of the Steubenville and Tusky Valley game.

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