Video: Sierra Canyon vs. Sheldon 2019 Open Division highlights
The Huskies and Trailblazers won't meet for a third time in the state finals.
One day after being forced out of the CIF Open Division state high school boys basketball tournament, there appears to be a reprieve for the Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.)
After public outcry and political pressure followed the Elk Grove Unified School District’s decision to close campuses and cancel all extracurricular activities over concerns of a student being quarantied over coronavirus exposure, a compromise was tentatively reached Sunday and announced by the California Interscholastic Federation.
The deal would allow the top-seeded and two-time defending champion Huskies to play the canceled semifinal game at Dublin (Calif.) on Tuesday, provided benchmarks are met and school public health officials are satisfied there’s no risk to the students or personnel, officials and media reports confirmed.
The cancelled NorCal semifinal between the two teams was originally scheduled to be played at Cosumnes River College on the southern edge of Sacramento. If the Dublin-Sheldon game is played, the winner would advance to Thursday's championship at Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland), a semifinal winner over Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) on Saturday
“After the Elk Grove Unified School District ("EGUSD") voluntarily removed Sheldon High School from the CIF Open Division Boys State Championship tournament on March 7, 2020, today the EGUSD has asked the CIF to place Sheldon High School's team back into the tournament pending further updated information from the EGUSD,” read part of the CIF press release.
It further adds “The decision to adjust any game will be based on information from our medical expert and consideration of the advisories of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the DPH (California Department of Public Health) and local public health agencies.”
This provides a path for the Sheldon-Dublin semifinal to be completed and the NorCal final against Bishop O’Dowd to be played Thursday. The CIF Open Division state final is slated for 8 p.m. Saturday. If Sheldon is unable to continue, the CIF said, Dublin and O’Dowd would play either Tuesday or Wednesday.
“We stayed united, together,” senior guard Xavion Brown told Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee
and MaxPreps. “It seems
like the district jumped the gun and was too quick to assume we were all
at risk of the virus. We’re a lot more optimistic now (after the press
So what are the chances the contingency plan takes place? Apparently it will come down to whether a coronavirus test comes back positive or negative. And whether that test results comes back soon.
Dublin coach Tom Costello, sympathetic to Sheldon’s plight on Saturday, still was on Sunday. But he just wants to know his opponent.
“I don’t care who we play, but I want to know who it is so we can prepare,” Costello said. “We were told the game was cancelled. We moved on. We started preparing for O’Dowd and that makes this tough.
“But we’ll move on and be ready for whoever we play. We just want to know who.”
Caught in the middle, Costello said it feels like Dublin is “at the mercy of someone else’s boss,” adding he feels it was a “a rushed decision,” to pull Sheldon from the tournament in the first place.
The CIF also announced a contingency plan for its Division 1 semifinal game between De La Salle-Concord at Archbishop Riordan. That game was postponed from Saturday to Monday because of a “potential coronavirus issue” with a Riordan student and parent.
Now that game has been tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. at De La Salle, with the winner moving on to a home game with Campolindo (Moraga) on Wednesday.
However, “If Riordan is unable to continue, De La Salle and Campolindo would play on Tuesday.”
“Obviously everyone wants the games to be played,” De La Salle coach Justin Argenal said. “The safety of our student athletes is our number one priority in this situation. If the game can be played it will be.”
Said Riordan coach Joey Curtin: "We're really happy that the CIF is working with both schools to make this game happen. We don't care that we have to go on the road to play. Obviously, it's not ideal. We earned the No. 1 seed and the home game, but we just want the boys to decide their fate on the basketball court rather than an outside source."
Late Sunday night, the San Francisco Unified School District sent an email to all its parents and students stating it is “canceling all non-essential events to all SFUSD schools,” effective
Monday through March 22, citing guidelines set by the San Francisco
Department of Public Health regarding “social distancing” in light of
Lincoln officials and San Francisco Section commissioner Don Collins is already woking with the CIF and the school district to make an exception and work out an contingency plan. A parent from Lowell, a school within the district, had a parent test positive for the virus last week. That shut down Lowell last week and Monday and forced cancellation of the team's top-seeded Division 5 NorCal girls soccer semifinal game with Chico.
The e-mail state that all other schools in the SFUSD, other than Lowell, would be open Monday.
Ron Nocetti, the CIF's executive director said Sunday night that "if a school district pulls their team out of an event, the CIF cannot overrule the decisions of a school district.
"That said, we know many school districts are making very difficult decisions at this time. We just wen through one recently in Elk Grove. We would welcome the opportunity to engage with the SFUSD to discuss possible options allowing Lincoln to continue in this event."
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Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.)
, the two-time Northern California Open Division champion, ended its season Saturday after its district closed campuses and canceled "any student-related activities from today, March 7 to March 13, 2020” over concerns about the coronavirus, multiple news outlets reported.
The Elk Grove Unified School district sent a letter to parents and students Saturday announcing the measures after a family in the 64,000-student district was quarantined by Sacramento County Public Health Department.
“Please know that to date, no student or staff has tested positive for COVID-19,” read a portion of the district’s letter.
The cancellation comes hours before the top-seeded Huskies were scheduled to play No. 4 Dublin in a NorCal regional semifinal at Cosumnes River College.
The breaking news didn't stop there. Just an hour before the 6 p.m. Division I boys semifinal game between De La Salle (Concord)
at Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco)
, the CIF announced the contest has been postponed until Monday over coronavirus concerns. The site and time of that game is to be determined while the schools sort out issues, according to a statement.
With the district’s unprecedented move, and the De La Salle-Riordan postponement also come questions to the California Interscholastic Federation, the state’s athletic governing body, about its plans to press forward with the state finals scheduled from March 13-14 at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center.
The CIF said it is monitoring extensively with its Coronavirus Advisory Board, which includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (DPH) and medical expert Dr. Jeffrey Tanji, a sports medicine physician at UC Davis Health.
“The games and tournaments are moving forward, definitely,” CIF Media Relations Officer Rebecca Brutlag said Saturday afternoon. “It’s so unfortunate that teams that have worked so hard all season to get to this point are having to withdraw. This is definitely not fun for anyone.”
Sheldon’s opponent, Dublin, advances to Tuesday’s NorCal regional final against the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 3 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) and No. 2 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose).
Sheldon coach Joey Rollings told Joe Davidson of the the Sacramento Bee
: "Yeah, we would've played anywhere, just to get in. I don't understand it. It's unbelievable that our district would cancel like this. We can't play somewhere else? Or without fans in the stands (which has happened in other events across the world)?"
Said Sheldon senior guard and captain Josh Williams: "It's just heartbreaking. This being our senior year, that's the hardest part. It's over. We really felt like we had a chance to win it all this year."
Dublin coach Tom Costello was driving his school district's van back to school to pick up his team when he got the word the game was called off.
"I really don't know what to feel," he said. "I feel super bad for (Rollings) and his team. We were really looking forward to playing the game. We had a game plan to try to take down the defending champions. We obviously wanted to advance, but not this way."
Ron Nocetti, the CIF’s executive director, had great empathy for all forced into making such decisions.
“Whether their teams are playing for a state championship or not, these are incredibly tough times for schools and school officials faced with these circumstances,” Nocetti said Friday. “We’ve spent incredible amounts of time the last two days with all parties and can tell you there is great care and consideration on a wide scope of issues that go into these decisions.”
Sheldon’s postseason departure wasn’t the first by a California school over coronavirus concerns, but the Huskies’ high profile — their star is Marcus Bagley
, brother of Sacramento Kings player Marvin Bagley — highlights the caution schools are beginning to take concerning the global outbreak that has killed more than 3,600.
In a tweet, Bagley wrote “Wow. Didn’t think my senior year & HS career would end this way. Thank you to everybody that played a role along the way. On to the next chapter.”
Saturday’s news comes a day after defending state Division 2 girls champion Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.)
withdrew from the Northern California Division 1 tournament, and Lowell (San Francisco)
canceled its Division V girls soccer game with Chico on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Menlo, a private school from the San Francisco Bay Area’s peninsula region, shut down the school for the rest of the week after a relative of a staff member tested positive for the disease.
Menlo school officials, as “an extreme” precaution, cancelled or postponed all spring sporting events but was hoping to have its girls basketball team continue its quest toward another state crown by playing in its scheduled quarterfinal game at Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland).
After discussions with the CIF, O’Dowd officials and health experts, the game was postponed until Friday. But three hours before that scheduled game, Menlo withdrew from the tournament.
“It’s such a difficult decision and unfair to them, but felt it was in the best interest of the community to error on the side of overly cautious given what we are learning about the coronavirus,” Menlo athletic director Earl Koberlien said.
In a prepared statement, Menlo officials wrote: “Menlo School did not come to this decision lightly, and know that this comes as a disappointment to the teams and fans.
“Given that Menlo doesn’t have more clarity on whether our athletes were exposed in time to come to a fact-based conclusion, and out of extreme caution for our students and fans, as well as those at Bishop O’Dowd, Menlo believed it is the right decision to cancel the game.”
It was an excruciatingly tough conversation to tell the 15 Menlo players that their season ended Friday, Koberlien said.
The team, all in uniform at a players’ house, was hoping to get on a bus to take the one-hour drive to Oakland when they got the news, said star point guard Avery Lee, a junior.
“We were all talking about the game and some of the players we were about to face,” Lee said. “It was very emotional. We expressed our love for each other. Our season is over, but that will never stop.”
Lee, a point guard known for her court vision, saw the big picture as did her teammates, she said.
“First off, our hearts are with all the people who have suffered or lost their lives due to the virus,” she said. “It’s such a big scary issue for our entire world. The decision was made out of safety for us and others. We know that can’t be taken lightly. We completely support that decision.
“At the same time, we’ll never know what could have happened on the court or how far we could have taken this. But we take pride in all of our accomplishments this season and all the milestones. … For all of us returning next season, this will just fuel our fire. We’ll be back even more motivated next season.”
De La Salle and Riordan hope they get to play this season.
According to Riordan coach Joey Curtin, a Riordan student and parent may have the virus and the student is being tested. "He's now in quarantine and we should have the results tomorrow," he said. "Hopefully it comes back negative, the family is safe and we can play the game."
De La Salle had driven to San Francisco Saturday, was shooting in Riordan's gym when Spartans' coach Justin Argenal got the news two hours before the game.
"Of course we were disappointed," Argenal said. "Certainly the Riordan kids are also. It's really a classic match-up of teams and schools. It's a bummer and letdown but we understand that the safety of our student-athletes comes first."
Said De La Salle athletic director Leo Lopoz: "I think Riordan and De La Salle made a good decision based on the health and well being of all parties. It's obviously a unique situation."
MaxPreps senior writer Mitch Stephens contributed to this report.