FLORENCE, S.C. – Just as it was for football in the South Carolina High School League, no games in this season’s state basketball tournament will be postponed because of the pandemic unless that situation presents itself related to the state final.
If any team is affected by the pandemic and is unable to play before that, that team will forfeit and end its season.
One state football championship game did get postponed by two weeks because of a COVID-19 issue: Class 2A, between Marion and Abbeville.
In basketball, regions have until Feb. 18 to report which of their teams will play in the state tournament, set now to begin Feb. 20. The state finals, at a site to be determined, are scheduled for March 4-6. The Florence Center has offered to host after it was decided Columbia’s Colonial Life Arena won’t be able to host it as it has in the past.
“There will be a limited crowd, no matter where we hold it,” said Charlie Wentzky, the SCHSL assistant commissioner.
Paul Beard Jr., general manager for the Florence Center, told the Morning News last week his facility could host 3,000 fans per game. That was the case during each state cheer final when it was held there in December.
Beard said last week his staff would be ready if the SCHSL picks Florence to host the state basketball finals. The state cheer meet was a good test run.
“We learned a whole lot, as far as people coming in and out of the building in this type of ticketing situation,” Beard said. “We learned how much time that takes. We learned how much time it would take to disinfect the arena, how many people would be needed to do that in an efficient and timely manner.”
If the Florence Center gets to host the state finals, the lower-state finals – an event Florence had hosted since 2012 – would then be held elsewhere.
Wrestling’s state tournament for duals begins Feb. 13 and will conduct its state finals Feb. 20. Last year, Hartsville was the Class 4A’s runner-up and won two state individual state crowns the next week. Qualifiers for this year’s state individual wrestling tournament start Feb. 26, and the finals are March 5-6.
As for spring sports, Feb. 1 marks the first day of practice. The first regular-season contest dates are March 1 (soccer), March 8 (boys’ tennis and golf, track and field), and March 15 (baseball, softball).
It is suggested events compete in every other lanes in track, and that athletes throw and retrieve the shot put/discus that athlete brings. In baseball/softball, facemasks are allowed. But, no softball pitcher can wear a yellow mask, and no baseball pitcher can wear a white mask. Dugouts may be extended away from home plate.
No sunflower seeds are allowed, and players cannot leave the dugout to celebrate home runs.
For the second consecutive year, the pandemic has wiped out the Carolinas Classic games. The annual event planned for Wilmington, N.C., features the top public high school senior boys' and girls' basketball players from North Carolina and South Carolina.
“As happened last year, our concern for the safety and well-being of these young student-athletes, as well as for spectators attending the games from communities across the two-state area, coaches, and essential personnel, prompted this decision,” said Phil Weaver, co-executive director of the NCCA and Shell Dula, executive director of the SCACA.
In early February, both state coaches associations will name honorary rosters for this year’s Carolinas Classic teams.