Schoolchildren are supposed to love snow days, but the closings are becoming a nuisance to many Southern Maryland Athletic Conference basketball players.

After seeing the fall sports season delayed by the sniper attacks that paralyzed the Washington area and eliminated all outdoor activity for nearly two weeks, many athletes have had enough of the wintry weather and its accompanying delays.

"It's frustrating," said Patuxent senior Charese Baldwin, a standout on the Panthers' volleyball and basketball teams. "I'm getting real tired of the snow.

"I can't go outside and shoot around because the snow is piled up, and I can't go inside because all of the gyms are closed. It feels like I can't do anything.

"This feels a lot like it did with the sniper because you just couldn't do anything about either one. The snow is more unpredictable than the sniper because at least then we knew we weren't going to be able to do anything for a while, but both are uncontrollable."

With Friday's closings, the delays impinged on the start of the Maryland 3A South Region playoffs. The boys' first-round tournament games were moved to Saturday, with the quarterfinals set for tomorrow, the semifinals Wednesday and the championship game Friday.

The girls' tournament was set to begin Saturday and run on a Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule.

Thomas Stone senior Antonio Lewis, the Cougars' starting quarterback and point guard, lamented that the delays and cancellations are limiting opportunities. This past Wednesday's regular-season rematch with Northern, one of only three basketball teams to defeat the Cougars this season, was canceled. The game won't be made up because the playoff schedule is not flexible.

"Don't get me wrong, the good thing is you don't have to go to school," Lewis said. "But you just want to play. Like with us, we won't get to play Northern now unless we see them in the playoffs, and that was a game we were really looking forward to. This is my senior season, my last chance to play some of these teams. You can't let things mess up your whole year, but it is kind of frustrating."

Baldwin and Lewis are fortunate that their competitive playing careers will continue next season in college.

Baldwin has Division I offers to play both volleyball and basketball, but said she will not decide on a school -- or a sport -- until after basketball season ends.

Lewis has already accepted a full football scholarship from West Virginia University.

But for most area athletes, the road ends in high school. That makes the delays and cancellations even more disappointing.

"It's been extremely different than what I thought my senior year would be," said Chopticon senior Brock Virts, the Braves' starting quarterback and a reserve guard on the basketball team. "With the sniper I know they were just trying to protect us, but I think they took it to the extreme. And now it's all of this snow we're not used to having.

"It's not just about the games, either. I look forward to practice. It's a time to work and get better, but it's also a time to spend with my friends.

"It sucks that we've had to deal with so many cancellations, but you just have to take the time you're there and cherish it. I'm there because I consider myself a true athlete and I love the sport, but I'm also there for the memories."