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Michael Wojtychiw, Sports Editor
7:31 pm CDT March 12, 2020
And just like that maybe the best season in Loyola Academy boys basketball history is over — and by no fault of its own.
The IHSA announced in a press release Thursday, March 12, that it decided to cancel the remaining winter state tournaments — which indlude boys basketball, scholastic bowl, music, drama and group interpretation, and debate and journalism — over concerns related to the coronavirus spread.
"We respect and understand the decision the IHSA made and with all of the news that had occured, we certainly knew there was a possibility it was going to be canceled," Loyola coach Tom Livatino said."But today was business like usual, as students, as teachers and coaches, we were preparing to play tomorrow, had a great practice, a great team dinner, played bags and left school around 5:50. Around 6:50 we got the news.
"It's really devastating. No one is upset about the situation and the understanding of why it was made. It's just a really difficult way to end the season.
"You feel for the seniors, especially those that have played the last competitive game of their careers. It's just a strange feeling to have it end so quick, especially since it was my job for us to keep focusing on the next meeting, the next practice, the preparation and not worrying about the decision because it was out of our hands."
The IHSA said in the release that many member schools had to withdraw from competition, making IHSA action necessary.
“We appreciate the patience and understanding that we have received from everyone involved in this process over the past 72 hours,” IHSA's Craig Anderson said in the release. “We have stressed the fluidity of this situation and have been transparent about the possibility that a suspension or cancellation could occur. While we had support from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Peoria City/County Health Department to continue our events with limited spectators, it has become untenable to continue the events among our member schools."
"The board considered suspending the events, but after deliberate discussion, did not believe that was a realistic option within the timeline. We feel for everyone who has been impacted, but must put the health and safety of all involved ahead of these events.”
The IHSA has not made any decisions related to spring sport tournaments at this time. Earlier Thursday, the NCAA announced the cancellation of all winter and spring sports.
“It is too early to make any decisions regarding IHSA spring state final tournaments,” Anderson said. “We respect the NCAA’s decision to cancel its spring championships, but also recognize that the exposure and travel by our high school teams is not as expansive as collegiate teams. At this juncture, we recommend that all IHSA spring sport teams consult their local health departments, and follow their recommendations on if and how to proceed with practices and regular-season contests.”
Loyola was set to play Evanston in the Elk Grove Sectional final Friday, March 13, at Robert Morris University prior to the cancellation. It would have been the fourth consecutive sectional-playoff matchup between the two programs.
The Ramblers won their fourth consecutive regional this year, while also winning 30 games, a program record, and winning the Catholic League Blue outright, the first time they had won conference outright since 2013.
Earlier in the day, the IHSA had decided to limit spectators to 60 fans per school in the arena for each contest.
The past couple days have been big in the sports world, as the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS have suspended play and the NCAA decided to cancel both the men's and women's basketball tournaments.