My Pitch

COVID-19's impact, sending off winter

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We are currently in an unprecedented time in sports.

In the past week, the coronavirus crisis has shut down essentially all sports across all levels. It has also shut down all other forms of public gathering, and has postponed major events.

What does this mean for sports fans? What does it means for athletes, coaches? Well, I guess the simple answer is we’ll see.

I’m embarrassed to admit that a few weeks ago I was one of those that was not at all intimidated by the virus. I assumed that maybe some precautions would be taken, but never did I expect for such a response … and one that I have grown to believe is necessary.

I am very fortunate to be part of the demographic that is at low risk and will likely not suffer too much if I were to contract COVID-19. But overall, when seeing how fast it is spreading and seeing the death toll rising each day, I believe that these shut downs are prudent.

Believe me, I feel for those kids that did not get to finish their winter seasons, as well as the ones who now have to wonder if they’ll be able to hit the field in the spring.

I feel for the small businesses and their employees that are now just trying to get by each day. It’s a tough, unfortunate situation with no real end in sight.

Ultimately, there is no good answer, no true solution. We can only try to stay healthy and positive during this tough time.

Moving forward, I encourage our readers to stay tuned to the news, including our three publications, to see updates regarding the virus and any local updates as well.

Stay safe out there, and be sure to keep me in the mix for sports stories that may be occurring in the next few weeks.

Now, on a lighter note, let’s do a few wrap up thoughts on the winter sports season.

Despite the tough, shortened ending, congrats to the Bishop Hendricken boys basketball team on a wonderful season.

Not that this will make the kids feel any better, but in my mind, they were this season’s state champs.

The Hawks were the top seed and beat North Kingstown in each meeting. The Skippers were neck and neck with the Hawks, and really their only true threat. However, to go 2-0, in my opinion, cements Hendricken’s spot at the top this year.

It will be interesting to see how this group responds next season. Sebastian Thomas had a breakout season and was arguably the top guard in the state. He will be back and his presence alone should guide the Hawks back to another deep playoff run.

The next team of ours is the Cranston boys basketball team.

After falling short in the Division II Semis, the Falcons entered the open state tournament and rolled to a Sweet 16 win against Westerly.

Now, the Falcons were set to face the Hawks in the Elite Eight, and I had trouble seeing them finding a way past Hendricken. But, that would have been such a fun game to cover. Anything can happen, it’s called March Madness for a reason.

The Falcons will be another team to keep an eye on next season. This was a nice turnaround campaign for them, and they have enough young talent coming up to make another run next year.

It’s unfortunate to see their season cut short as well, but it was a heck of a story and run.

Lastly, it was a great year of basketball for Johnston High School.

The boys had a terrific run and advanced to the Division III Finals, where they suffered a tough overtime loss to Lincoln.

The girls also made an appearance in the Division I tournament and even picked up a preliminary win over Burrillville in the open state tournament.

Each team lost to La Salle last week, ending their seasons.

However, this was a nice statement for Johnston hoops.

Both teams had questions heading into the year, undergoing the standard roster turnover but also welcoming in new coaches to lead the way.

The Panthers rose to the occasion and proved to be formidable not only in their divisions, but throughout the entire state.

In a time in which it is as difficult as ever to keep kids in public schools instead of private, this past season may have a large, long-term impact in Johnston. Don’t get me wrong, local private schools will always impact the numbers, but maybe seeing both Johnston hoops teams enjoy playoff-caliber seasons will get younger kids excited and put the Panthers on their radar.

Congrats to all of our teams on a great winter season, especially those that were still in the mix prior to the outbreak taking its toll.

I wish I could be sending off the winter season on better terms, but it is what it is, and I wish you all the best and look forward to getting back out there.

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