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High school athletes in Tri-Cities still waiting word on tournament play

Student athletes and coaches will have to wait a little longer to see if they can resume tournament play.
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The Legal Beagle tournament at Terry Fox Secondary usually attracts the top senior boys basketball teams in the province. Public health restrictions have forced its cancellation for a second straight year.

A public health directive allowing the resumption of youth sports tournaments doesn’t apply to high school events.


In a memo issued Tuesday (Jan. 25) to school administrators and athletic directors, the executive director of BC School Sports — the governing body for high school sports in the province — said a ban on high school tournaments for sports like basketball and wrestling is still in effect despite an announcement earlier in the day by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that youth tournaments could resume effective Feb. 1.

Jordan Abney said school tournaments “remain paused” pending further discussions with the Ministry of Education.

In follow-up posts on Twitter, the organization said the ban on school tournaments is actually a directive from the Ministry of Education that must be implemented by each school district. It said it expects “more clarity” by Friday (Jan. 28).

All youth and adult sports tournaments have been on hold since last December, in an effort to limit transmission of the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19. Adult tournaments remain restricted.

“We know that sports have a different place for youth in terms of growth and development and future opportunities,” Henry said Tuesday, adding they’re particularly important for those seeking university scholarships.

“We’ve taken all that into effect and prioritized making really sure that we can safely restart youth tournaments first.”

That could be good news for events like the Tri-Cities Female Ice Hockey’s Ice Classic house tournament, scheduled for March 11 to 13.

The ban on high school tournaments has hit local basketball and wrestling programs particularly hard, costing Terry Fox Secondary its showcase Legal Beagle tournament of top boys’ teams and Centennial Secondary its Top 10 girls’ tournament.

Both were scheduled for earlier this month, but instead, teams have been scrambling to schedule exhibition games to supplement league play.

Centennial Centaurs girls' coach Stephen Bruyneel said those extra games are critical to measure players' progress and to get a sense of the competition at provincials.

Allan Mah, wrestling coach at Heritage Woods Secondary, said School District 43 (SD43) coaches decided last fall to schedule conservatively anyway, replacing tournaments with dual meets involving wrestlers from just two schools to limit the number of athletes gathering in gyms.

Both sports, though, still have their provincial championship tournaments scheduled, beginning with wrestling at the Pacific Coliseum on Feb. 24.

The girls’ basketball championships are scheduled to begin March 2 at the Langley Events Centre, with the boys’ provincials following a week later at the same venue.

Provincial curling and gymnastics championships are also being played in the same time-frame.

with file from Chelsea Powrie, Castanet

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