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WVSSAC ends sports seasons

PARKERSBURG — W.Va. Governor Jim Justice announcing a permanent end to in-school learning for students this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic nearly put the death knell in high school sports returning for the 2019-20 school year during an early afternoon press conference on Tuesday.

WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan loudly rang the bell later in the day by officially ending sports for the year.

In a statement released on the WVSSAC Twitter account at 3:33 p.m., Dolan provided this explanation:

“To coincide with Governor Justice’s orders to continue distant learning and keep the school buildings closed, the WVSSAC agrees and supports the decision of the governor and superintendent Clay Burch. For the safety of our students, schools and the communities this was the right decision,” he said.

Dolan went on to provide encouragement to the state of West Virginia in the overcoming of the coronavirus hardships.

“The WVSSAC wishes that everyone stays safe during these difficult times. Even though we are practicing physical separation, it is more important than ever to stay connected with our family, teammates, and friends,” said the statement.

This decision also closes the possibility for the resumption of the girls’ high school basketball tournaments and the boys’ Class AA regional tournament. These activities had been in a holding period since the governor first shut during Parkersburg Catholic’s opening round game against Tucker County on the evening of March 12.

Parkersburg High School head coach Scott Cozzens said while it was unfortunate there are bigger things going on in the world right now.

“I know a lot of kids are beyond basketball and we are definitely disappointed to not have an opportunity to finish what we started. It is very unfortunate as the seniors lose a lot of things and not just basketball,” he said.

The Big Red leader offered in jest in late March to invite Martinsburg, Greenbrier East and Woodrow Wilson to PHS Memorial Fieldhouse just to settle the score. With this announcement, it is unlikely there is even a remote chance at this possibility.

In addition to the PHS girls basketball team, the decision brings to an end the seasons of the Gilmer County, Parkersburg Catholic, and St. Marys girls in addition to the Parkersburg South and Williamstown boys groups.

All five teams advanced to the state tournament after regional co-final victories. Catholic, Gilmer and PHS then moved on to the state semifinals after wins in their opening round games March 11 and March 12 inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Dolan said in a statement earlier in March there are no plans to name a state champion based on any outside criteria.

What wasn’t fully cancelled was the 3-week summer period. The organization stated it plans to provide more information as “it comes to light.”

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