Let the games begin – again.
Bishop England and Philip Simmons high schools are ready to resume their winter sports programs after shutting down basketball and wrestling teams because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to rage out of control around the world.
“We are practicing, and we will be playing,” Philip Simmons athletic director Dan Minkins said. “All teams are up and running. In fact, spring sports conditioning is under way.”
Philip Simmons will resume games next week, while Bishop England returned to the hardwood Tuesday when the Bishops played Battery Creek. Friday’s game against North Charleston has been put on hold because Charleston County schools have not resumed their winter sports schedule.
Although the school is located in Berkeley County, Bishop England follows Charleston County guidelines. The school district allowed varsity teams to resume practice on Jan. 4. However, the Roman Catholic Diocese, which oversees Bishop England, did not allow the Bishop varsity teams to practice until Jan. 9.
Bishop England adjusted classroom attendance beginning Jan. 12. Students with last names A-L, who are known as Bishop, were scheduled to go back to class on the 12th and attend classes in person every other day while taking virtual classes the other days.
Students with last names M-Z are known as England. They will attend classes beginning on Jan. 13 and will attend classes in person every other day while taking virtual classes the other days.
Both schools are ready to resume playing games.
“We already missed three (Region 8-AAA) games,” said Bishop England athletic director Paul Runey. “If we miss any more games, we might have to reschedule things so we have games using a Monday-Wednesday-Friday format.”
The Bishop girls’ team has missed 10 games since Dec. 4. The team has practiced only eight times in that same time frame.
“It affects you in a lot of ways,” Runey said. “It’s tough to play consistently when your game
and practice schedules are so inconsistent.”
The athletics shutdown at both schools occurred just as region play was set to begin. The Bishops compete in Region 8-AAA, while the Iron Horses are in Region 6-AA. The region standings determine if a school makes the playoffs.
The High School League’s state basketball tournament usually features a field of 32 teams, but the organization halved the field to 16, so only the first- and second-place teams qualify.
Runey pointed out that in past years, some teams around the state would opt out of the playoffs in sports such as soccer or tennis which sometimes featured juggernauts vs. the have-nots. The results usually would be lopsided and included a long bus ride to and from the game.
If that happens in basketball next month because of the pandemic, third-place coaches can send the High School League résumés of their teams accomplishments and why they should be in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Bishop England and Philip Simmons’ officials take it one game – and one day – at a time.
“The parents, coaches and players are doing an incredible job of making this work, and making it safe,” Minkins said. “That’s all you can ask for.”