The Indiana High School Athletic Association has postponed the boys basketball tournament.
A statement released Friday morning read: “Due to the number of schools closing after today for an extended period of time, it has become apparent the IHSAA boys basketball tournament series cannot be completed as scheduled. Subsequently, the boys basketball tournament is postponed immediately.”
In a post on his Twitter account, IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said, “Despite our best efforts to continue our beloved tournament, it simply is not feasible at this time. We will continue to evaluate in the days and weeks to come and perhaps restart the tourney at a later date.”
As of early Friday afternoon, Valpo coach Barak Coolman had not met with his team as a whole, having spoken with them individually in his office.
“The fact that they postponed it, no one knows what it truly means,” he said. “Is it delaying the inevitable? Will we play some time down the road? For old-school coaches, in (19)78, they postponed the regional three weeks due to the coal crisis. Is that what this is going to look like? The uncertainty is what makes it hard. Obviously, it’s disappointing, but it’s not surprising. The whole world is on a moment-to-moment basis right now until we get more clarity. You just have to go day by day.”
Until the decision was made, Michigan City was scheduled to host a Class 4A regional Saturday, abiding by Governor Eric Holcomb’s mandate that no more than 250 people could be at a gathering.
“I haven’t had time to take a breath,” M.C. Director of Athletics Craig Shaman said Thursday night. “I’m looking at it from an administrative perspective. I’m following the directives of the IHSAA and the (National Federation of High Schools). It’s become a much more simplified operation in the last 24 hours.”
Prior to the postponement, each school was going to be allotted 75 tickets in addition to its 12 uniformed players. That list included coaches and other team personnel with admission otherwise limited to immediate family members.
Save for the absence of a crowd, the tournament was going to run as it would have otherwise with music, introductions and concessions. Shaman also planned to open the upper level sections of bleachers even though the 8,000-seat gymnasium would be largely empty.
“We don’t want it to be a bad experience for the players,” Shaman said. “This reminds me of when I was coaching in college. I’d go to games in Chicago between two neighborhood schools and the rivalry was so intense, there were no students or fans allowed. I’ve seen that plenty of times, but I’ve never seen a scenario like this. I look for it to be surreal.”
Teams and their fans would have been allowed to be in the gym for their game and the other day-time game, but couldn’t return for the championship if they were not involved in the game. Each school was going to be required to provide personnel to check in people from an approved list.
Following the postponement Friday, Shaman said Michigan City will be available to host should the tournament resume at some point.
“Yeah, sure,” he said. “No problem at all. We’ll be ready to go.”
Valpo had a previously-planned team dinner Friday night that took on a completely different tenor, given the situation.
“If the season ends, we have a lot to be proud of, we’ll miss the seniors,” Coolman said. “If we get to play another game, we’ll give it our all. That’s where we’re at.”