NEWPORT, Ky. — Newport Central Catholic athletic director Jeff Schulkens said starting the winter sports season Monday was definitely a different experience.
"Our girls basketball team started play in the All 'A' Classic regional last night as their first game," Schulkens said. "They usually have played 10 games or so before the All 'A' starts."
Monday was the start of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association winter sports season after the KHSAA Board of Control voted in mid-November to delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over a dozen high school basketball games involving Northern Kentucky boys and girls teams were played on Monday.
"We feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to proceed and start our winter sports' seasons," Beechwood athletic director Ryan Booth said.
"I think many of us felt at times that this would not be a possibility this year, and therefore we are grateful for it. We also feel that there is so much uncertainty about what is in store this season that we are trying to enjoy every opportunity that our kids and coaches get."
The boys and girls basketball season had been scheduled to start Nov. 23. Instead, teams were able to officially start practice Dec. 14.
Schulkens said his NewCath teams are hoping games will be allowed for the remainder of the season.
The NewCath girls basketball team defeated Bellevue 67-21 Monday at Ludlow.
NewCath advances to play at the winner of Villa Madonna and Beechwood at 7 p.m. Friday. The All 'A' final is 7 p.m. Saturday at Ludlow.
"They are extremely excited to get the season started, they are grateful for the opportunity to play (and) disappointed in that their classmates cannot attend," Schulkens said.
"They started their practice late October (and) then took a three-week pause until December 14 when they were able to restart again."
On Dec. 10, the board voted 12-5 to push back the dates for the boys’ and girls’ Sweet 16 state basketball tournaments to March 29-April 8 after narrowly defeating other alternative dates, with the event schedule and format to be finalized at a later date in consultation with Rupp Arena.
“Our staff continues to be extremely agile in planning and adjusting to the problems of conducting competition during the pandemic,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said in December.
“And our Board of Control continues to prioritize a full season for the spring sports and sport-activities during 2021. These schedule adjustments balance these priorities while also allowing for additional flexibility should the situation worsen again.”