Basketball Season Delayed

Junior Evan Heine waits for a referee to start play so that he can pass in the ball against North Plainfield during the Blue Streaks’ home opening night. The Streaks won 57-43.

(Photo courtesy of Abigail Eller)

Junior Evan Heine waits for a referee to start play so that he can pass in the ball against North Plainfield during the Blue Streaks’ home opening night. The Streaks won 57-43.

Genesis Martinez, Staff Reporter

Despite the global pandemic and accompanying strict regulations such as social distancing, boys’ and girls’ high school basketball is under way after a delayed start.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association pushed back the 2020-2021 basketball season about two months to a starting date of Jan. 11. The basketball season will also be limited to 15 games this winter.

Warren Hills’ basketball coaches are eager to see and work with their players again.

“I’m just excited for the prospect of having a season,” said Head Men’s Coach Joseph Bamford. “I love all my players, but I really want the seniors to have their season.”

“I’m just happy that our seniors will have one last opportunity to compete together representing Warren Hills,” said Head Women’s Coach Meghan McGeehan.

To that end, there will be many differences this upcoming season when compared to last season, such as coaches having to wear masks — obviously — no Blue Crew cheering section, no students at games or practices, and fewer games due to the Coronavirus.

Some games that fans were looking forward to will be canceled. The biggest one will be Hackettstown.

“It is a bummer that we won’t be playing Hackettstown because it’s such a fun and big game and it will be our first year not playing them,” Bamford said.

Another exciting game that will actually go on is against the Somerville High School Pioneers. Players and coaches are excited to play that one.

“Every year we look forward to our very competitive rivalries in our conference —  Voorhees, Somerville and now Mount Saint Mary — but outside our conference we play Phillipsburg and Bound Brook,” who are both very talented teams, McGeehan said.

All games are scheduled to be live-streamed due to social distancing regulations. No fans will be allowed to show up to sit in the stands, which is a drawback especially for the basketball parents and Blue Crew.

“Strangely enough, the officials will not touch the ball. There won’t be a jump to start the game and the players are responsible for getting any runaway ball and inbounding it without the officials,” McGeehan said.

So fans should be ready to expect some tweaks to the game.

Due to the additional months of separation between coaches and players, Bamford predicted there will be some struggles on the court.

“One big thing is that we had no practices over the summer,” he said, “so I haven’t seen my players in a year, meaning we have to cram a lot of things in little time.”

The pandemic has made it difficult for many usual school activities to run, especially sports. Overall, with the coronavirus seeming to affect most people negatively, will it also influence the players’ and coaches’ energy levels?

“These girls have all the energy in the world,” McGeehan responded. “They have been patiently waiting since last year (March) to get back on the court together. We usually have a great summer season to work out and play together.”

Hearing that both Warren Hills teams and coaches are ready despite what’s going on in the world is amazing to see. Fans say that they can’t wait to see the  talented Warren Hills players and coaches out on the courts. Warren Hills is ready to tackle this basketball season, albeit a little later than usual.