COVID causing havoc in high school hoops

• Ticket info for Raiders, Red Devils below

The high school girls basketball season has already met with speed bumps for Clinton and Laurens high schools – and neither had made it to tip off in an actual game as of Tuesday night.

LDHS Athletic Director Tommy Spires announced Tuesday morning that the Raiders varsity girls team will be quarantined for two weeks due to COVID-19 issues, canceling this week’s games at Hillcrest Tuesday and at Clinton on Friday. The boys games are to be played as scheduled.

In addition to the canceled LDHS contest, Clinton’s scheduled season opener with Newberry Tuesday night (Dec. 1) was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns at Newberry. When Laurens County District 56 sent its middle- and high-school students back to the virtual classroom two weeks ago, practices in all athletic programs stopped in accordance with the South Carolina High School League rules.

“I think I’ve counted three days of practice where we’ve had everybody there,” said CHS head coach John Gardner. “And it seems like a month ago since I’ve seen them. All of it sort of seems like we’re starting over.”

With the return to the physical classroom Monday, the Red Devils, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A in a coaches’ preseason poll, also returned to the practice court in preparation of a busy week. CHS is to travel to Dorman tonight (Wednesday) before returning for its home opener Friday night against intra-county rival Laurens.

Tonight’s game against the Cavaliers is for the girls team only, while the Red Devils and Raiders boys meet Friday night, tipping off at 6:30 p.m. The CHS boys will be playing their first game of the season. LDHS returns after a tough 0-3 start at this past weekend’s Spartanburg Christian Academy tournament. The Raiders boys team will travel to Hillcrest Tuesday.

Gardner said he is hoping for the best this season but admits that the shaky beginning to the season due to the pandemic could be a harbinger of things to come.

“This year might not be as much about who the best team is as far as winning a region championship or even a state championship,” he said. “It might be about who stays healthiest the longest.”

Gardner pointed to Region 3-3A volleyball champion Mid-Carolina, which was denied a trip to the state playoffs after a COVID-19 outbreak within the program as an example of the tenuousness of any athletic season during the pandemic.

But Gardner said he is hoping the Red Devils have the chance to live up to their lofty preseason ranking with four returning starters from last year’s Region 3-3A championship team led by De’Shanti Watts, who those same preseason pollsters voted among the top five players in Class 3A.

“It’s nice to be thought of, and a lot of that is based off of last year,” he said. “They say nothing is less important than preseason rankings, but it’s still an honor. Right now, we’re fighting through our own issues. We’re trying to put together a couple of good practices in a row. We just want to peak at the right time and try to stay healthy.”

The COVID-19 issues at LDHS delays the varsity head-coaching debut of former Presbyterian standout Aianna Kelly. Kelly replaced Yoneko Allen on the bench for LDHS after last year’s 3-17 mark.

As a player, Kelly helped PC to the Big South Conference semifinals during her senior season in 2016-17.

The Raiders (0-3) boys team is coming off of an 8-18 season under head coach Josh Chavis, who must replace four starters from last year’s team.

Unlike LDHS, the Red Devils return most of their team from last year’s campaign, which included a singular victory for head coach Eddie Romines. Last year, the Red Devils were 1-23, but one of the youngest teams in Region 3-3A. They lost three games this past weekend in a tournament hosted by Spartanburg Christian Academy.

CHS ticket info

Attendance for CHS home basketball games will be limited this season to 386 fans due to COVID-19 restrictions. Ticket sales will also be limited to online purchases.

Parents, family and fans may purchase tickets online at chsreddevils.com. Both varsity tickets and JV tickets are $6 each. There is a convenience fee charged for online purchases and those fees are non-refundable.

  • Online tickets will go on sale on game days at 8 a.m. No tickets will be sold at the door.
  • SCHSL passes will be honored at the door, as long as capacity has not been reached.
  • A mask or facial covering will be required to enter and while inside the gym.
  • 1st grade and up will be required to have a ticket to enter.
  • All students 8th grade and below must enter with a paying adult and remain under adult supervision at all times during the event.
  • Fans are expected to responsibly social distance themselves during the event and take all necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. Gym bleachers are marked with red dots to be used as a guide for seating availability. Families may sit together.
  • There is a clear bag policy in effect for all home athletic events.
  • No one is allowed on or near the playing court at any time. Only team personnel will be allowed near team benches or sidelines.
  • Spectators will be asked to leave the gym as soon as the contest is over.

Specific Ticket Information:

  • To ensure parents have the opportunity to buy tickets, each Red Devil player will have a specific code to enter for purchasing tickets. Also, the athletic directors for visiting schools will have a code for visiting parents only. Parents must purchase tickets by no later than 4 p.m. on game day. All remaining tickets will be added to the ticket count for general admission sales.
  • No code is needed for general admission tickets.

Raider ticket, streaming info

Attendance at LDHS home basketball games will be limited to 200 per game this season due to COVID-19 restrictions and tickets will be sold only in advance online and at select locations.

Tickets can be purchased online at laurens55athletics.com or from Angela Marlett State Farm and Chris Callahan State Farm in Laurens.

LDHS home basketball games will be streamed live through the NFHS Network. You can join the NFHS Network monthly or annually. Visit https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/schools/laurens-district-55-laurens-sc for more information.

To attend home games:

  • Varsity tickets are $6 and JV tickets are $5. There is a convenience fee charged for online purchases and those fees are non-refundable.
  • Online tickets will go on sale the Monday of each game week beginning at 8 a.m.
  • SCHSL passes will be honored at the door, as long as capacity has not been reached.
  • A mask or facial covering will be required to enter and while inside the gym.
  • 1st grade and up will be required a ticket to enter.
  • All students 8th grade and below must enter with a paying adult and remain under adult supervision at all times during the event.
  • Fans are expected to responsibly social distance themselves during the event and take all necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. Gym bleachers are marked with yellow tape to be used as a guide for seating availability. Families may sit together.
  • All security measures will remain in place before entering the event, including the district’s clear bag policy and metal detector screening.
  • No one is allowed on or near the playing court at any time. Only team personnel will be allowed near team benches or sidelines.
  • Spectators will be asked to leave the gym as soon as the contest is over.

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