High school basketball in Albemarle County is set to begin Friday, when the Monticello boys and girls basketball teams are scheduled to tip off their seasons.
The Albemarle and Western Albemarle basketball programs are slated to open their 2020-21 seasons the following day with matchups against Jefferson District opponents.
This week’s scheduled games could be the only ones that those teams are able to play this season.
On Wednesday, Albemarle County Schools announced a return to all-virtual learning starting Tuesday due to the recent rise in local COVID-19 cases. Superintendent Matt Haas said virtual learning will remain in place in Albemarle for a minimum of two weeks.
The move means athletic activity at Albemarle County’s three public high schools — Albemarle, Western Albemarle and Monticello — will be paused starting Tuesday. That pause will last until at least Feb 1.
“Understandably, this decision is disappointing to the hundreds of student-athletes, coaches and athletic training staff across our county whose efforts and attention to safety protocols have been diligent,” Monticello athletic director Matthew Pearman wrote in a note to parents and student-athletes on Wednesday. “Please know this decision was made in the interest of protecting the health and well-being of our students, staff, and communities.”
Wednesday’s news was disappointing for athletes at Albemarle County’s public schools, but did not come as a surprise.
“I knew a cancellation could come at anytime, but it doesn’t hurt any less,” Albemarle guard Amaya Pendleton said. “Right now to stay motivated, I am just going to continue to work on my game and stay in shape, that’s all I can do physically. Mentally I’m going to try and stay positive.”
During the pause, coaches will not be able to meet or practice in-person with their teams, but will be permitted to host virtual workouts and share suggested activities with student-athletes.
Currently, games scheduled for this week are still scheduled to be played.
Monticello is set to take on Fluvanna on Friday. The Mustangs’ boys basketball team will play the Flucos at home, while the MHS girls will travel to Fluvanna.
Western Albemarle’s varsity basketball programs are scheduled to play Fluvanna County on Saturday. The Warriors’ boys team will travel to Palmyra for their Jefferson District matchup with FCHS, while the Western girls team will host the Flucos. Both games are slated to begin at 4:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Monticello and Albemarle’s varsity basketball programs are scheduled to play. The boys game will be played at Monticello, while the girls game will be at Albemarle. Both games are slated to tip off at 2:30 pm.
“I am looking forward to our game on Saturday,” Pendleton said. “I’m going to play like it’s my last because it possibly could be. I do understand the circumstances though and our superintendent is doing what’s best to keep everyone safe, but for me personally [the pause] could have not come at a worse time.”