Ranney Cancels Two More Boys Basketball Games, Remains on Hold
This story has been updated in a new post with clarifications. Old information has been noted throughout this post with links to the updated story.
It turns out Ranney's boys basketball season may be on hold after all.
After releasing a statement claiming its team was "able to resume" on Tuesday, Ranney has notified both Red Bank Catholic and Colonia it will not be playing its scheduled games against the two teams this week - the Caseys Friday in Red Bank and the Patriots Saturday at Ranney.
Ranney coach Tahj Holden said he met with athletic director Natalie Gorman and that he was told that addition contact tracing is being conducted and ongoing and that once completed and the N.J. Department of Health is consulted, he and his team will find out if they can return for in 2021.
Gorman did not yet wish to comment but confirmed that new circumstances arose within their internal protocol after the statement was released Tuesday that prompted the school to resume contact tracing.
Ranney has not altered its schedule beyond the cancellation of the next two games. The Shore Conference postseason is scheduled for next week and will be seeded Thursday night and made official Friday morning.
Red Bank Catholic's online schedule now lists its boys varsity team as playing at Wall on Thursday, Holmdel on Saturday and with no opponent on Friday. Multiple sources who wished to remain anonymous, said they were made aware of the schedule change Tuesday night.
Colonia athletic director Pellegrino LaSala confirmed the cancellation, saying he received what he described as a "cryptic email" from Ranney on Tuesday saying they needed to cancel Saturday's game but without explanation. When he followed up asking why, he said he did not receive a response.
The latest development is another twist in a strange three-day saga that has played out differently than other shutdowns throughout the Shore Conference. According to multiple sources who wished to remain anonymous, a player in the Ranney program tested positive for COVID-19 and Monday's home game vs. Trenton Catholic was cancelled while the school - in conjunction with the department of health - conducted contact tracing. The school confirmed as much in the statement released on Tuesday morning.
Elsewhere around the Shore, Manasquan, Holmdel, Marlboro, Wall and Red Bank Catholic all confirmed shutdowns on the day they were initially reported, even after some initially offered no comment before ironing out details of their program stoppages.
What makes Ranney's situation unusual is the assertion Tuesday that the team was resuming, only to go back into protocol later that night. Gorman did not offer specifics as to why but said they were under the impression - based on their consultation with the state health department - that the team could return to practice Tuesday, only to discover new information unrelated to Monday's cancellation. (Update, Feb. 25: Gorman confirmed cases of symptomatic team members who tested negative for the virus).
The story started on Monday morning when Trenton Catholic posted on Twitter that its game at Ranney was cancelled and it would conduct a live-streamed intra-squad scrimmage. Gorman, meanwhile, declined to comment over the phone while Holden did not return a text message.
It has been a common practice this season for a school to withhold comment while figuring out the details of an upcoming program shutdown - Manasquan did so for several hours on Jan. 30, when word of its shutdown broke before confirming later in the day.
Ranney, though, appeared to be in the clear when it sent an unsolicited statement from the athletic department via an email from Director of Marketing and Communications Sara Zavorak to Shore Sports Network that read:
"Out of an abundance of caution, yesterday’s game was cancelled as we completed all necessary internal protocols and contact tracing. Our top priority is to keep our community members safe. With all procedures completed, and in consultation with the Department of Health, the team is able to resume today."
Later the same day, Red Bank Catholic and Wall finalized their game on Thursday with Red Bank Catholic having been informed that their Friday game vs. Ranney would not be happening.
The details of Ranney's program stoppage beyond the removal of the Red Bank Catholic and Colonia games from the schedule are still not public. A standard 14-day quarantine would likely end Ranney's season, although it would depend to what date the exposure to the virus was traced and the last time the team gathered. The NJSIAA basketball season is set to end on March 6. (Update, Feb. 25: Ranney has since clarified some details about its three-day program stoppage)
This is a developing story, check back for further clarification throughout the day.