The Illinois High School Association announced Thursday evening that it has canceled its remaining winter State Series postseason tournaments, which include Boys Basketball, Scholastic Bowl, Drama & Group Interpretation, Music, Debate and Journalism, over concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We appreciate the patience and understanding that we have received from everyone involved in this process over the past 72 hours,” Illinois High School Association Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a press release.
“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 must put the health and safety of all involved ahead of these events.”
Joliet West was the area's lone remaining area team still participating in the state tournament and were originally scheduled to play East Aurora in the Lockport Sectional Championship game Friday evening. Instead, the Tigers will end their remarkable season with a 29-4 record and an abrupt ending to its postseason run.
"The fact that we all had to hear this in a tweet was disappointing," Joliet West athletic director Steve Millsaps said. "The kids, especially the seniors ended up hearing it this way, even if we knew that it was a possibility, and they had to hear it through a tweet rather than with their teammates, their brothers and their coaches that's what hurts me must."
"You have to deal with it and you have to control what you can control," Millsaps said. "Obviously the biggest thing is making sure people stay healthy, but that doesn't make it any easier after having a great season."
The IHSA has not made any decisions related to spring sport tournaments at this time. Most spring sports are allowed to conduct contests on Monday, weather permitting.
"It is too early to make any decisions regarding IHSA spring state final tournaments,” Anderson said. “We respect the NCAA’s decision to cancel its spring championships, but also recognize that the exposure and travel by our high school teams is not as expansive as collegiate teams. At this juncture, we recommend that all IHSA spring sport teams consult their local health departments, and follow their recommendations on if and how to proceed with practices and regular-season contests.”