After ravages of COVID, winter is wiping out games

After ravages of COVID, winter is wiping out games
The Bulldogs' Taylor DeMint battles Olivia Gowin of Fulton during a game earlier this year. Few scheduled games have been played over the past week and a half as weather clamped down. [Eric Mattson]
By: 
Dave Faries
Editor

The winter sports season continues the most remarkable – although coaches don’t use that word – of high school sports schedules.

First coronavirus quarantine protocols threw things out of whack. Now the weather is taking its turn. The Mexico girls basketball game set for Wednesday night didn’t happen. It was postponed until Thursday in tandem with a boys game at home against Marshall – both after the Ledger’s deadline.

Mexico’s chance to host Kirksville on Monday night was also wiped out. And it was a reset of the original Dec. 30 date.

Also bumped from this week’s schedule was a letter of intent signing ceremony for Bulldogs football star Shannon Dorsey. First it was on for Feb. 10. Then Feb. 17. Now activities director Travis Blevins is hoping for March 1.

Maybe.

A second signing ceremony – this one for outstanding Mexico fullback Dante Billups – has already been postponed twice.

“I’m hoping to do it Thursday,” Billups said.

COVID-19 has eased up its throttle hold on Audrain County and high school sports dramatically, with the Audrain County Board of Health reporting just 14 new cases. But the polar vortex lingering over the area is eager to have its say.

It was after 2:00 on the afternoon of Feb. 4 and Community R6’s activities director Matt Thomas was pacing the gym wondering if that evening’s JV game would happen. It didn’t. Saturday morning, Feb. 13, during the district wrestling meet hosted by Mexico, the Bulldogs basketball team appeared, ready to travel to Hannibal.

“We found out about the game two days ago,” said senior guard Ty Prince.

That game had been knocked out by COVID-19 in December and by weather the week before. But the Trojans girls squad can one up Mexico – they had a few hours notice before taking the court against New Franklin last week.

“The girls did not know until about noon we were going to play,” head coach Bob Curtis said.

Community had been locked in to play New Franklin on that Saturday, with Pilot Grove set to battle New Franklin on Thursday. But bitter weather forced Pilot Grove to bail – but they indicated the outlook was better for the weekend.

So the games were flipped.

The Mexico boys January date with Hickman was wiped out by an afternoon storm. Blevins suggested the following Saturday, but Hickman had a conflict. And so the two played on Feb. 6 – in the Mexico Middle School gym, as the high school played host to the girls wrestling districts that day, which was also marred by iffy weather.

Basketball and wrestling coaches are used to some February shuffling. The month tends to bring uncertain conditions in any year. But this season it comes after the ravages of COVID-19, which postponed games, made lineups uncertain and some practices virtual.

Perhaps no squad suffered more from the pandemic than Van-Far. Most of their early junior high games were wiped out. And the Indians’ girls varsity managed just three games the entire month of December. The lost at South Callaway on Dec. 1, topped Louisiana two days later, and didn’t take the court again until Dec. 30 – a 51-50 double overtime thriller over Cairo.

In between, quarantine cost them a Monroe City Tournament appearance, the Gary Filbert Classic and games against Pleasant Hill in Illinois and rival Community R6.

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