Two teams were going to leave Thursday’s Division II girls basketball state tournament semifinals disappointed. Unexpectedly, all four did.
Less than 40 minutes before the 1 p.m. tip of the first game between Carroll and Beloit West Branch, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced its decision to indefinitely suspend all postseason tournaments , including boys and girls basketball, ice hockey and wrestling.
Both teams were warming up inside Ohio State’s St. John Arena when they were advised to leave the court and return to their locker rooms. There they were informed of the decision. Spectators were told via public address announcement.
OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass followed with an impromptu press conference for the media on hand.
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“This decision though it may appear at the last minute is based on so many developing situations that occurred really in the last eight hours,” Snodgrass said. “As much as we want this opportunity for our kids and our schools and our communities, we have to look at the safety risks these mass gatherings create.”
Carroll (23-5) was returning to the state tournament after finishing runner-up last year. The Patriots were also state runner-up in 2011.
Following the announcement, players from Carroll and West Branch gathered outside St. John for a photo together.
“You want to be on the right side of history on this one,” Carroll athletic director Scott Molfenter said. “You want to make good decisions. Our kids were very disappointed, but I think they understand. Our administration understands.”
“We feel bad for the team, especially the seniors (Julia Keller, Allie Stefanek and Jill Roberts),” Carroll head coach Cecilia Grosselin said. “It’s always nice to be able to bring closure to a season one way or another, and they won’t have that.”
Tri-Valley, scheduled to play the second semifinal against Napoleon, took a team picture at half-court and slung up a few shots before exiting.
Fort Loramie and Minster were scheduled to play Thursday night in Division IV girls state semifinal games.
Alter, Trotwood-Madison and Thurgood Marshall were scheduled to play Division II boys regional games Thursday at UD Arena. Lakota East (Division I), Stivers (Division III) and Jackson Center (Division IV) also are still alive in the boys tournament. The boys final four was originally scheduled for next week at Value City Arena in Columbus.
The state wrestling tournament was scheduled to begin Friday and run through Sunday at Value City Arena in Columbus. The state hockey final four was scheduled for Saturday-Sunday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
“The OHSAA … their back is against the wall,” Beavercreek wrestling coach Gary Wise said. “Some of these decisions are not based solely on the OHSAA. … I hope everybody is looking at this in a situation where the OHSAA is trying to do their best with a very, very bad situation.”
Following Wednesday’s announcement that the OHSAA was limiting postseason attendance to players, coaches and school personnel/support staff, Carroll planned to have a normal school day with a break to watch the game via live stream in the gymnasium.
“It’s been an emotional roller-coaster for the girls,” Molfenter said. “They win regionals, get to come here and then can’t play in front of their fellow students. They kind of got over that, and now this.”
Said Grosselin: “It’s tough.”
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