by Ken Brown
NORTHEAST KINGDOM – After an additional week of delay and uncertainty, the black cloud that was hovering over the high school basketball season was finally lifted last week and live varsity competition will start this week.
After balking on an anticipated green light a week earlier, Governor Scott gave athletic directors, coaches, and players around the state some much-needed good news last Friday by giving his blessing to get the season underway. High School basketball begins in earnest this Friday and it will be an 8-10 game sprint for many teams, without guarantees of playoff basketball at the end.
The Vermont Principal’s Association has extended the winter sports season to March 27, giving basketball a two-week window to complete the tournament brackets. Snow days and positive tests loom as potential pitfalls to a schedule that already has zero wiggle room due to additional protocols for COVID-19. Teams are required to play no more than two games in a seven-day period, with three days of rest in between. Teams that experience any type of outbreaks will require a two-week quarantine period that will essentially end their hopes of a season.
Diligence to protocols on and off the court are being stressed and there will also be no fans allowed inside the gymnasiums. All players, coaches, referees, and personnel will be required to wear masks at all times. Teams around the state have been conducting noncontact drills since December 28 and went to full contact practices and scrimmages on January 18. There will be more access to remote viewing this season as one person will be allowed within the gymnasium to livestream the games.
The Hazen Union boys are scheduled to tip-off their season at home this Friday against Northfield and the Lady Cats are scheduled to host Peoples Academy on Monday in their season opener. The Twinfield boys travel to Craftsbury Academy on Friday in what will be the season opener for both squads. The Craftsbury girls will welcome Twinfield to town on Monday in both teams’ season opener.