Coronavirus Shuts Down State High School Basketball Tournament

From a young age, high school basketball players across California dream of hoisting a CIF state championship trophy.

Unfortunately for this year’s finalists, that dream is replaced by a nightmare scenario. 

The California Interscholastic Federation announced Thursday that the 2020 boys and girls state basketball championships will be cancelled amidst concerns of the novel coronavirus. 

CIF expressed in a statement: “The decision was made after careful deliberation and in the primary interest of protecting the health and safety of our member schools, fans, and most importantly, our student-athletes.”

The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, was declared a “pandemic” by the World Health Organization on Wednesday. 191 cases of coronavirus currently exist in California, according to a Los Angeles Times report, with Santa Clara County and the city of San Francisco placing bans on large social gatherings exceeding over 1,000 people.

In fact, the California Department of Public Health released a memo Wednesday recommending a statewide ban of gatherings containing more than 250 people. 

The CIF state boys and girls basketball championships, held at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento every year, was an obvious target for cancellation given the large crowd it attracts annually. 

Clovis West girls basketball head coach Craig Campbell – who led the Golden Eagles to a state title in 2017 – was shocked by the news. 

“The first reaction is what a shame it is for the student-athletes, and especially the seniors, who will never get this opportunity again,” Campbell said. “Unfortunately, this is uncharted territory for our schools, the CIF and society as well.” 

Although Clovis West did not qualify for the state finals this year, fellow Central Valley girls team Sierra Pacific (Hanford) was playing for a state ring this weekend.

Despite the disappointment for many basketball players, coaches and fans around the state, CIF seemingly had no other choice but to cancel the championships, given the suspension of the NBA season and NCAA basketball starting Wednesday and Thursday. 

CIF continued in its statement: “While we understand this decision is disappointing, we strongly believe that the opportunity to compete in this event does not outweigh our obligation to place the health and safety of our member schools and school communities above all else.”

Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.