Darin Longanecker PHOTOS The Gazette
Storm ravages Winnebago
A storm with high winds caused severe damage to trees and structures in the Village of Winnebago on Nov. 10.

By Christopher Johnson


Practice for the 2020-2021 girls and boys basketball season was set to begin this past Monday as student athletes from across the State prepared for the winter games.

In Pecatonica, there is not practice taking place with the expectation of playing basketball this winter, this year.

Girls tournament play, in a standard season, would start the week before Thanksgiving with teams from across the State taking to the floors.

Boys tournament play would have been scheduled for its start the week after the girls teams tipped off, but neither squad will get their chance, at least at this time.

A ruling by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker on Oct. 27 put a lot of pressure on local school districts and on the IHSA as a whole. But, the sports regulating agency refused to yield.

In a statement from IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson, the situation that has arisen where the agency and the State of Illinois are at opposite sides of the playtime spectrum, wasn’t meant to sow discontent.

“The Board’s decision to move forward with the basketball season was not meant to be adversarial. It was rooted in a desire to receive more direct communication and date from our State partners.”

Anderson said he invited officials with the Governor’s Office and the Illinois Department of Public Health to a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19, where they can discuss the future of winter sports more thoroughly.

There are 813 member schools that work with the IHSA and a lot of those districts have reported they will be listening to the advice offered by the IDPH and avoid contact until further notice this winter, according to Anderson.

“The Board revealed that among the 546 schools who responded to the survey, nearly 300 IHSA schools do not plan to start basketball on Monday, Nov. 16 and another 212 schools remain unsure of what they will do.”

School Districts have the ability to make decisions regarding winter plans. It is under their full authority to either abide by the findings of the Governor’s office or go along with the wishes to play with the IHSA.

When the IDPH raised the risk level of basketball from medium to high, a lock down of sorts followed. School Districts waited for determinations from the State Board of Education to get the go ahead to play.

During a recent interview with Pecatonica Athletic Director Kevin Kunkel, one of the biggest issues District 321 was facing related to confusion and disappointment.

While most athletes within the Pecatonica School District missed out on fall play, all of those games have been rescheduled for March 2021 so they will still get their chances.

Patience and understanding were keys Kunkel commented on that allowed his students the chance to understand what they faced this year and find ways to adapt.

Still, at this point, school districts across northern Illinois have decided they will not be getting together as they had been accustomed to over previous seasons.

As new information becomes available regarding the status of high school sports, the Gazette Newspaper will bring that to you.

To stay in touch with the quick changes taking place in Springfield, readers are encouraged to go online through the IHSA or State of Illinois portals.

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