gw stalbans5

George Washington coach Rick Greene said his team had an “empty feeling’’ when it learned that the statewide boys basketball postseason was shut down Thursday because of the coronavirus.

The Secondary School Activities Commission has been forced to postpone championship events before — a measles outbreak delayed the 1994 state track meet and a herpes scare held up portions of the state wrestling meet three years ago.

But calling off Thursday’s boys Class AA regional games due to the coronavirus and the uncertainty surrounding when — or if — the boys state tournament will happen is a problem on a larger scale.

A total of 32 boys teams around the state remain alive in the postseason — eight teams have already qualified for the Class AAA and Class A state tournaments, and 16 teams are set to compete in the Class AA regionals if play resumes.

Poca was scheduled to host Logan in a Region 4 co-final on Thursday, but learned about five hours before tipoff that the game was on hold indefinitely.

“We’re disappointed,’’ said Dots coach Allen Osborne, “but it’s a serious situation and we’ll do our best to help. We’ll do what we’re supposed to do to rectify it and hope we play soon.’’

Teams are permitted to practice, according to SSAC executive director Bernie Dolan, but Osborne took a pass on that policy Thursday after his game was scrubbed.

“We had a team meeting and went over everything,’’ Osborne said. “We don’t know what the timetable is, but we didn’t practice today. I just don’t think we could have gotten a lot done. We’ll practice [Friday] and hopefully have a timeline soon. No one wants it to happen, and I hope we get through this.’’

George Washington, which has earned a spot in the boys Class AAA state tournament, heard about the postseason delay right at the end of Thursday’s practice. GW was set to play Wheeling Park at 7:15 p.m. on March 19, but that probably won’t happen now, at least not on that date.

“It takes all the air out of you,’’ GW coach Rick Greene said of the SSAC’s announcement. “There was a lot of emotion. Almost like you lost your last game and the season’s over, and there’s that empty feeling. And then you kind of regroup a little bit. They’re off for spring break, and we took them bowling after practice and it gave them something to do, and everybody’s spring is coming back a little bit.’’

Greene wondered about the timing of the decision.

“Everybody’s for safety,’’ he said, “but at this point, there hasn’t even been a case [of COVID-19] in the state. It could be another 10 days and everything’s done. Maybe there will be some games in an empty gym or an empty building.’’

That was the feeling at Charleston Catholic’s Athletic Complex Wednesday night after the Irish polished off a win against Mount View in the Class A Region 3 co-finals. Maybe their state tournament experience would come with limited fans in attendance, be it at the Charleston Coliseum or wherever the games might ultimately be held.

“You’ve got to control what you can control,’’ said Irish first-year coach Hunter Moles. “That’s what we talk about with the guys all season. We’ll just continue to work to get better and prepare for wherever and whenever the tournament’s at. Whatever we’ve got to do, we’ve got to show up and play.

“If there’s no fans, it’ll be unfortunate for sure because that’s what you go to the Civic Center for, that atmosphere. That feeling’s just one of a kind. Man, I hope we can. I hope it can be as normal as possible, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to take precautions for safety.’’

Zion Suddeth, a junior guard for Catholic, said his father intended to come to town from Nashville, Tennessee, to watch his son play in the state tournament.

“I’d love for all the fans to go, and for the school to go,’’ Suddeth said, “but obviously with the coronavirus, it might not be possible. It’s been a dream of mine to play at the Civic Center since I was a little kid, so just being on that floor and not having to pay for a ticket — and that’s my favorite ticket.’’

Osborne, one of the state’s most veteran coaches, realizes the gravity of the situation when the SSAC feels the need to shut down the state tournament, its biggest money-maker.

“It’s a big deal,’’ Osborne said. “It’s the premier sporting event in the state. People plan their vacations around the state tournament. I feel sorry for Mr. Dolan and the people who have to make that decision. It was the best decision to do, but I guarantee they didn’t want to do it.’’

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.