IHSA state basketball tournaments and all playoff games closed to public due to coronavirus concerns

Just 60 fans per school will be allowed at each game.

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Belleville West is all smiles after winning the Class 4A state championship last March.

Belleville West is all smiles after winning the Class 4A state championship last March.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The NCAA Tournament is canceled. The Big Ten has canceled its entire spring sports season. MLB, the NBA and MLS are suspended. Even the Illinois Elementary School Association has postponed its volleyball tournament this weekend due to coronavirus concerns. 

But the Illinois High School Association announced on Thursday that the boys state basketball tournament will continue as scheduled on Friday. 

The IHSA has made one concession to the coronavirus concerns. It will limit attendance to 60 fans per school. That applies to the Class 1A/2A state tournament games in Peoria on Friday and Saturday and all the Class 3A/4A sectional finals on Friday. 

“This was a difficult decision shaped by thoughtful deliberation set against a truly unprecedented backdrop,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “IHSA Basketball is America’s Original March Madness, and we recognize that this tournament is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the competing teams, communities and fans. Ultimately though, we have to put the health and safety of the students, along with the general public, ahead of the spectacle of the event. This is and remains a fluid situation. It is important that our member schools and fans understand that events outside any of our control could lead to further changes over the coming hours and days.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that he was “strongly discouraging sporting events with more than 250 people.”

Technically the IHSA is only allowing 120 fans, approximately 40 coaches and players and some media in to the state tournament games. So they would likely slide in under the 250.

Full refunds will be available for all fans that already purchased tickets. The IHSA says the move came after after consultation with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Peoria City and County Health Departments.

Young is scheduled to play top-ranked Curie on Friday at Lyons in a Class 4A sectional final.

“It is disappointing that they had to do it but I guess it is the right thing to do given the circumstances we are facing,” Young basketball coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “I give the IHSA credit for at least going through with the games. They got this one right.”

Aurora Christian, Orr, Timothy Christian, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, Breese Mater Dei, Madison, Goreville and Roanoke-Benson are the eight schools participating in the Class 1A and 2A state finals this weekend.

Orr coach Lou Adams and his team left for Peoria on Thursday morning. The Spartans are trying to win a fourth consecutive Class 2A state title.

”As far as we know the games are happening,” Adams said. “We are heading to Peoria and we will see what happens.”

Hampshire is one of the Class 3A teams scheduled to play in the sectional finals at a high school. The Whip-Purs are supposed to play Wauconda at Rockford Boylan.

”As a player, the most frustrating part is the fact we are still being allowed to go to school, yet those same kids we go to school with won’t be able to attend our game,” Hampshire senior Nick Erickson said.

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