Thursday’s Class 2 finals proceeded as scheduled, while Class 1 was canceled Thursday afternoon.
“While we understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our teams, we feel this decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of, most importantly, our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, families, and fans,” John Haun, the Virginia High School League’s executive director, said in a statement on the decision to cancel.
Madison and Edison were set to play in the Virginia Class 6 girls’ final at 11 a.m. Saturday at Siegel Center in Richmond. South County and Centreville were in the boys’ final. The VHSL has crowned those four schools co-champions.
“I completely understand the need to keep everybody safe,” Centreville Coach Kevin Harris said by phone Thursday. “But at the same time, as a coach and a competitor, your kids have worked since they were in elementary school to compete at the highest level and make it to the state championship game. For the seniors who won’t have that chance to walk off after their last game, I feel for them.”
Harris said he would have a chance to talk to his players after school Thursday, and given the surreal nature of the day, he didn’t know what he would say. South County Coach Mike Robinson, who teaches in the building, said his players had been trickling into his room throughout the day to converse about the news.
“Our goal from the start of the season was to get to VCU and play for the state championship,” Robinson said. “It is what it is. I understand. I’m not mad. The most important thing is the health of everyone.”
In Maryland, Northeast and Howard were ready to send their teams off to their 3 p.m. semifinal games Thursday afternoon. Northeast’s community and students stood outside the front door, waiting for the boys to jump on their bus to the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center. Howard’s students were also going to line up as the girls departed for Towson University’s SECU Arena.
Then, as both teams were about to depart, the coaches learned from their principals and athletic directors that the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association had postponed their games.
“We had to go from a really happy send-off to tell them the unfortunate news,” Howard Coach Scott Robinson said. “The girls were understandably very upset.”
Northeast Coach Roger O’Dea had been anticipating this day since he took over his alma mater’s team a decade ago when it was one of Anne Arundel County’s worst. O’Dea visited Xfinity Center with his players two years ago to motivate them to earn a chance to play in the 17,950-seat arena. The only other year the Eagles reached the state semifinals was in 1983.
For Northeast’s star seniors, the state semifinals represented a final chance to receive looks from college scouts. They hope it will still be played.
“I’m telling them right now this is bigger than basketball,” O’Dea said. “It might be for our best health, our best safety interests. I feel bad for all my kids, but I really am heartbroken for [my seniors] right now