District 2 NEP Beat Tip-Off Column
Written by: Jon K on Monday, January 18th, 2021
Welcome to the 2020-2021 District 2 Hoops Season and the Northeast Beat.
And They’re Off…well, sort of
The state-mandated Covid-19 pause that lasted into early January, combined with the 10-practice PIAA requirement, has resulted in a wide variety of basketball schedules across District 2 this year. In the Wyoming Valley Conference, all 14 boys’ and girls’ teams have tipped off their seasons, except for Hazleton Area. The Cougars will get underway Tuesday evening after a Covid-related pause. Boys’ programs at Crestwood and Dallas are idle until later this week also due to a positive Covid-19 diagnosis. Looking toward the Lackawanna League, 22 of the 24 schools have not hit the hardwoods yet as most teams are set to get rolling later this week as league play begins. Some schools such as Montrose, Mountain View, and Honesdale will be navigating through postponements into next week due to school district protocols. There is no one-size-fits-all action plan. While a majority of Lackawanna League teams will have a 13 or 14 game division-only slate, at Riverside both programs are off to highly successful 4-0 starts and as they are on their way to playing 20+ games. As crazy and chaotic as this may be at times, it is wonderful that so many student-athletes are getting a chance to compete.
To Mask or Not To Mask
The Lackawanna League established blanket policies requiring that all players wear masks on the court and allowed for mask break timeouts. Additional social distance initiatives include limiting scoring table seating and eliminating post-game handshakes. Teams will not share home-school equipment, such as basketballs during warmups. Those protocols, especially in regard to wearing masks, eliminates some of the early-season confusion seen in the Wyoming Valley Conference where only 5 of the 14 schools had adopted policies on that topic as of last week.
Streaming Games, Spectator Policies
Many schools have already announced plans to broadcast games on their YouTube or Facebook pages or via district websites and that will provide a terrific way for fans to follow their favorite teams. Another option being offered by some programs includes coverage by NFHS. There is a subscription fee for that service, but it does offer many viewing options. All schools are proceeding very cautiously. Some are not permitting any fans while others are handing out guest passes prior to all events. Look for these policies to adapt as he season progresses.
LLHoops Game Coverage
LLHoops has enjoyed providing coverage of boys and girls hoops teams across District 2 for many years and is anticipating that this year will present similar opportunities, despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic challenges. The NEP Beat realizes that different facilities and athletic policies will impact this to a great extent. For example, if media requests are counted as part of the overall capacity limits, our policy supports that “top-tier” media and family members be given priority, especially those marquee matchups that would typically generate a sellout under normal circumstances.
Wyoming Valley Conference Divisions
With MMI Prep opting out of the season due to Covid-19 and Northwest Area now competing in the Mid-Penn (District 4) Conference, the Wyoming Valley Conference has realigned into two 7-team divisions. On the Boys’ side, Dallas and Nanticoke Area both moved from Division 1 to 2 while Tunkhannock moved from Division 2 to 1. The move fits in well as Tunkhannock is now in the 5A classification while Dallas dropped down to 4A. Teams will play each division member twice for a total of 12 conference games. On the Girls’ side, Nanticoke Area moves from Division 1 to 2. Other WVC classification changes include Lake-Lehman boys moving up to 4A., Dallas girls moving up to 5A, and Holy Redeemer entering the talent-filled 4A class as District 2 now features several of the premier programs in the entire state in Girls AAAA.
On The Road to Mohegan Sun Arena
In a season that doesn’t resemble anything typical, one giant sense of hoops normalcy will return for the 6th year in a row. As was announced recently by the District 2 Committee, the Championship games will be returning to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township. There will be a total of eleven games featuring tripleheaders on March 11 and 12. March 13 will have 5 games beginning at 10 am. Games will be starting every two and a half hours. Estimated ticket allocations will be 250 per school based on current capacity limits. Only district champions will advance to the state tournament this year. Kudos to the D2 Committee in getting these plans in motion.
District 2 Ratings
The NEP Beat has always used a wait-and-see attitude through December to allow teams some time to gel and develop chemistry on the floor. This year is no different. District 2 Top Ten Ratings will be posted on February 2. With Covid-19 restrictions and safety protocols still going strong after 10 months, we could not think of a more appropriate way to make 6:00 am just a little bit different on that day. As Phil once said, anything different is good.
See you in the (virtual) bleachers !
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