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For Schools, Basketball Plans Up In The Air After IHSA’s OK

Basketball player dribbling to the basket
Jeff Smudde
The IHSA announced Wednesday schools can proceed with a basketball season that's scheduled to start with practices on Nov. 16.

The Illinois High School Association’s move Wednesday to proceed with basketball this season left schools scrambling to remake schedules and decide if they even want to proceed with what the state considers a high-risk sport coronavirus surges across the state.

LeRoy High School Athletic Director B.J. Zeleznik said he's grateful the IHSA will let schools decide whether to play basketball since the state seemed determined to keep student-athletes from competing.

“We’ve had the feeling that we’re powerless in what was happening to our student-athletes and their athletic seasons,” Zeleznik said. “We were very appreciative of the IHSA coming out with the announcement they came out with.”

Zeleznik said his coaches have told him players have adjusted to wearing masks on the court.

“The athletes have adapted. They are able to practice with their masks on. They are able to go hard for periods of time with the masks on. They think it’s very doable,” he said. “In fact, (coaches) frustratingly say, ‘We can do this,’”

The IHSA has called for additional timeouts during games to help players who have a tougher time breathing through the masks during play.

Zeleznik said LeRoy plans to meet with other schools in the Heart of Illinois Conference within the week to determine how many schools will play and work out a new schedule.

According to the LeRoy school district website, the district has had no positive coronavirus cases. Fifty students and staff have quarantine since school started.

Not every school has jumped at the chance to bring back basketball. Bloomington High School Athletic Director Tony Bauman said school officials haven't decided if it's work the health risks--even if players and coaches wear masks.

“If it seems that we can do this safely and not put our school at risk, I think we’ll consider that, but if there’s a risk involved that isn’t worth taking, then we need to make that decision, too,” Bauman said. “(There’s) still a lot of difficult conversations still yet to be had.”

Bauman said District 87 plans to involve the McLean County Health Department in the discussion.

District 87 has reported one staff person has tested positive for the coronavirus and no students.

Unit 5 officials also have said they need more information before making deciding on the basketball season.

Peoria High AD Brien Dunphy said he would not comment until he received a lot more information.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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