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NYSPHSAA ‘Indefinitely Postpones’ Winter Championships; Marist Women’s Season Ends With Cancellation Of MAAC, NCAA Tournaments

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

It’s a light switch.

That’s how fast emotions turned, how quickly jubilation became heartbreaking devastation today for high school and collegiate student-athletes in the Hudson Valley, from the state and across the country.

“Our team was together about to watch film when we heard the news, and we all were so upset,” said Putnam Valley girls basketball star Kelli Venezia, whose team went from winning a big state regional semifinal game on Wednesday night to basically having its season end on Thursday. “And for me as a senior it hurts a little bit more knowing I might not get to play again. It’s just so sad to think this is how it might end.”

For hundreds here in the Valley, and tens of thousands across the country, this is how it’s going to end.

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced Friday it has “postponed indefinitely” all its winter championships – bowling, ice hockey, boys basketball and girls basketball – due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

At nearly the same time, the Marist College women’s basketball team – also coming off a big victory last night to advance to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament semifinals – was told that the MAAC had decided to cancel the remainder of the tournament and that the NCAA had also canceled ‘March Madness’ for 2020 due to the virus.

The Red Foxes were having their best season in the last five years, sporting a 26-4 record, a 12-game winning streak and a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, giving it a very legitimate chance to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

“In response to the immediate and ever-growing concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and its Council of Presidents have unanimously decided to cancel the remainder of its current conference tournament currently being held in Atlantic City, New Jersey,” the MAAC said in a statement. “In addition, based upon the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference membership’s ongoing commitment to the health and safety of our student athletes and athletic department representatives and as a result of the growing national concern of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Council of Presidents has also unanimously voted to cancel all spring sports competitions, practices (including captain’s practices), effective tomorrow, March 13th and other athletic-related activities for the remainder of the 2020 Spring semester.”




For state high school students, the NYSPHSAA left the door open that it might resume the tournaments at a time when the public health emergency is over. But that’s being overly optimistic. Practice for spring sports began Monday and games start as early as Monday, March 23, so it would be hard to accommodate players and coaches who participate in both seasons. It will also be difficult to secure venues.

Four local teams still remained, all girls basketball – Monroe-Woodbury, Livingston Manor, Millbrook and Putnam Valley.

“I had to make the difficult decision today to postpone the NYSPHSAA winter championships. It has become increasingly more difficult to host these championship events in a manner that would serve as a quality and beneficial participation experience for our student-athletes,” NYSPHSAA Executive Director Rober Zayas said in a statement. “It was my goal to complete the winter championships on schedule. It has become increasingly more difficult to host these championship events with the number of challenges that have been presented.”

“It’s done. That’s what I’ve been told by my higher-ups,” Millbrook girls basketball coach Adam Peek said.  Peek and the Blazers beat Haldane Monday night to advance to the state quarterfinals in Class C.

“It’s like being hit in the face but not knocked down. This thing, this virus, it’s bigger than all of us. We have to keep things in perspective.”


But difficult to accept when you’re 16-17-18 years old and just 32 minutes from the state Final Four.

“We have been in the gym six days a week for hours upon hours since November pushing through injuries, sickness and really anything you can think of. This team is something special. We are a family,” Venezia said of her Tigers. “We missed out on so much in our personal lives to get to where we are and it is just taken from us. We put everything we had into this team to be as successful as we are. And we are truly heartbroken we cannot continue in the state tourney.”




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