IHSA boys basketball tournaments canceled because of coronavirus concerns

The IHSA made the decision Thursday evening.

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Orr celebrates after winning the Class 2A state championship in 2018.

Orr celebrates after winning the Class 2A sttate championship in 2018.

Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

Illinois has awarded a state championship in boys high school basketball every year since 1908. That streak will come to an end this year because of concerns about the coronavirus.

The Illinois High School Association on Thursday evening canceled the entire boys state tournament.

‘‘I am devastated for our whole team,’’ Mundelein’s Conor Enright said. ‘‘This is arguably the best season in Mundelein history. Not seeing that out sucks. But I understand why they had to do it. No one is mad, but it just hurts.’’

Enright and most of his teammates are juniors and will get another chance at the state title. That isn’t the case for a lot of the top teams.

‘‘The unfortunate reality is that for all of us disappointed about the season ending, based on all the things happening around the country, they really had no other choice,’’ Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. ‘‘So many young people have done so much work. It is just tough.’’

Earlier in the day, the IHSA announced it would limit attendance at all remaining playoff games, including the Class 1A and 2A state tournament, to 60 fans per team. It changed course and shut everything down several hours later after many major sporting events were canceled, including the NCAA Tournament.

‘‘We appreciate the patience and understanding that we have received from everyone involved in this process over the past 72 hours,’’ IHSA executive director Craig Anderson. ‘‘We have stressed the fluidity of this situation and have been transparent about the possibility that a suspension or cancellation could occur.

‘‘While we had support from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Peoria City/County Health Department to continue our events with limited spectators, it has become untenable to continue the events among our member schools. Multiple schools who are participating or hosting these sports and activities have been forced to withdraw from those roles, clarifying the need for the IHSA to take definitive action.

‘‘The board considered suspending the events but after deliberate discussion did not believe that was a realistic option within the timeline. We feel for everyone who has been impacted, but [we] must put the health and safety of all involved ahead of these events.’’

Players and coaches around the state were shocked at the news, even though major sporting events around the country had been canceled in the last few days.

‘‘My kids weren’t worried about it,’’ Thornton coach Tai Streets said. ‘‘They just wanted to play. I’m speechless.’’

It was a day of waiting for all the teams and players involved.

‘‘We actually had morning practice today, and the whole day I was checking Twitter updates,’’ Enright said. ‘‘I could feel it coming, I guess. Now we are trying to organize a rec-league game against Stevenson just to play it out.’’

The IHSA said it hasn’t made any decisions about spring sports tournaments.

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