Basketball – Update: Rutgers, Phillipsburg Out as NJSIAA Basketball Hosts
The Wall and Manasquan boys basketball teams - as well as the other 14 public school programs that made it to Wednesday and Thursday's group semifinals - have been working all year to make to the the RAC on the campus of Rutgers University for the NJSIAA Group Finals.
Because of a global pandemic, those plans have changed.
Rutgers announced Wednesday it is cancelling all third-party scheduled events on its campus, prompting the NJSIAA to move the boys Group Finals to Phillipsburg High School on Sunday, March 15. Later in the day, however, the NJSIAA confirmed the arrangement with Phillipsburg fell through, according to a post on Twitter by Rich Greco of NJ.com.
The decision to change sites stems from the continued spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus throughout the United States, which as of Wednesday, included 23 confirmed cases in N.J., according to Governor Phil Murphy. The virus has spread quickly in several places throughout the world - most notably in China, Italy, South Korea and Iran - and organizations, as well as local and federal governments, have begun to take measures to slow the spread, while also considering others.
The NJSIAA also announced it would cancel its state Senior All-Star Games, which are held the Saturday prior to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions Finals on Sunday, March 22.
As of Wednesday, no games or rounds of the NJSIAA Basketball Playoffs have been postponed or cancelled but the NJSIAA has released statements each day this week updating the latest impact on the tournament. Wednesday's site change is the first substantial change to the tournament.
As of this post, the girls Group Finals remain unaffected and will be played as scheduled on Sunday at RWJ Barnabas Health Arena in Toms River.
Wall and Manasquan are the last two remaining teams from the Shore area, with Wall winning its second straight Central Jersey Group III championship on Monday night and Manasquan doing the same in Central Group II on Tuesday. The two neighboring teams will play as scheduled in their next games, with Wall taking on Timber Creek Wednesday night at Brick Memorial at 7 p.m. Manasquan will take on Camden - the No. 1 team in New Jersey - on Thursday night at RWJ Barnabas Health Arena in Toms River.
Reactions in the sports world intensified over the course of Wednesday, with the biggest news coming from the NBA. After Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, according to multiple reports, the NBA announced the season would be suspended indefinitely beginning on Thursday. Two games on Wednesday - the Jazz at Oklahoma City and New Orleans at Sacramento - were also cancelled.
In college basketball, the NCAA announced its postseason championship tournaments - including the men's and women's basketball tournaments, would be played with limited spectators in attendance while different, smaller venues for the final four rounds are also being considered.
All of the remaining conference tournaments - including the B1G and the Big East - announced the remainder of their tournaments would be played in front of essential personnel and limited family members only.
Note to the Reader: This post was updated with new information from later in the day on Wednesday.