HENDERSON — Officials at Crossroads Christian School have decided to temporarily suspend all basketball activities due to a plethora of issues associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
With CCS reporting some positive cases of its own, athletic director and men’s basketball head coach Scottie Richardson had no choice but to pause the season so he, his staff and players could take necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus around the school.
“We had some COVID-19 issues that caused the JV boys, the varsity boys and the head coaches of all five teams to be quarantined,” Richardson said. “Cammy Simmons coaches two teams on the girls side along with Jay Jennings on the boys side, and they are both varsity assistants, so it knocked out all of the head coaches.”
CCS was preparing to embark on a busy week of basketball that included a non-conference matchup with Greenfield on Tuesday and their first Mid-Carolina Conference opponent in Community Christian on Thursday.
But both those contests were canceled due to separate COVID-19 issues at each school.
Friday’s home game with Southside Christian was also called off once Richardson found out that his players and coaches would have to quarantine for two weeks, which motivated him to cancel all practices and games for the rest of his teams out of an abundance of caution.
Richardson said that another factor contributing to the stoppage of basketball at CCS was the updated mask mandate issued by N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, which now requires people to wear masks indoors at all times while in public places.
The coach was not comfortable with having his players immediately transition into wearing masks during games once their quarantine period ended. He intends to take a methodical approach to the situation so that his teams can continue their seasons in a productive, but safe manner.
“We’re going to ease ourselves into playing with masks,” Richardson said. “Public schools have been doing it with volleyball, but we feel basketball is a little different. There’s a lot of sprinting and a lot of running, especially with our system. We want to get more information from the health department, the [N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association] and our individual players as far as their health.”
When practice resumes for CCS on Dec. 7, Richardson will have his players go through walkthrough drills like shooting and dribbling with their masks on, but no running will take place during these practices while the coaches perform their due diligence on player safety and in-game procedures.
Richardson is optimistic that his players will not have to play in masks with Cooper’s revised mask mandate set to expire on Dec. 11. But with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising all around the United States, he wants to make sure that his team is both mentally and physically prepared to compete in face coverings for the foreseeable future.
The temporary stoppage halted what had been a rigorous, non-conference schedule for the CCS men’s basketball program, as they lost to Cape Fear Christian Academy, Berean Baptist Academy, Central Carolina Prep and United Faith Christian Academy by 30 points or more during the month of November.
While Richardson is disappointed that none of his teams will be on the basketball court for the next week, he said morale remains high and knows that all of his players are going to come out of the quarantine period ready to win games.
“We have a built-in system of communication, so this is nothing new,” Richardson said. “We were quarantined all through the spring and early into the summer, but we are constantly communicating with our players. They are upbeat and excited, so this is not a downer for us by any means.”
Richardson added that his team’s overall strength of schedule puts them in a great position ahead of the NCISAA 1A playoffs, but he wants his players to learn from their mistakes earlier in the year and finish the 2020-21 season strong despite all of the uncertainty surrounding high school athletics in the state.
“We’ve got some conference games to make up, but there are some non-conference games that we just aren’t going to get in,” Richardson said. “We’re probably going to schedule at least three games a week in January, and I’m going to argue for cancelling the conference tournament, which would give us an extra week to make up games. We’re also trying to cut down on travel and we might end up going to a conference-only schedule.”
The first game for CCS out of the quarantine period will be a home matchup against Community Christian, on Dec. 15 at 8 p.m..