Dansville girls, Avoca boys basketball teams impacted

LATHAM — It’s official.


The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) on Monday announced the cancellation of the remaining winter state championship events.


The impacted championship events include the boys and girls basketball regionals and state championships, as well as the ice hockey and bowling championships. Plans are being developed to honor and formally recognize the students and teams who qualified to participate in these championship events.


“It is with great disappointment that we make the decision to cancel the remaining winter championship events,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “Our association’s focus is to benefit students through participation in interscholastic athletics and unfortunately this rapidly developing situation has prevented our association from providing a quality championship experience. We certainly sympathize for the students who are being impacted by this crisis but at this time they deserve honesty from the leadership of our association.”


Factors that played a role in this decision include but are not limited to: the evolving COVID-19 public threat, CDC mass gathering recommendations, Governor Cuomo’s declaration of a state emergency, President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, input from the 11 Sections and extended school closures.


“This is one of the most difficult decisions the Officers of the NYSPHSAA have ever had to make,” said Paul Harrica, President of NYSPHSAA. “It has been determined it is not feasible for the Winter State Championships to be hosted in a safe and beneficial manner for the participating student-athletes and their teams in the near future. The health and safety of the students we serve will always be our top priority.”


Locally, the decision impacts the Dansville girls and Avoca boys basketball programs. Both won Section V titles and then won their state qualifier game to advance to the Far West Regional. A win against their Section VI foes would have sent the programs to the state FInal Four.


The Mustangs officially close the year 22-2, winning the Livingston County and Section V titles.


“Obviously we are all very disappointed, but we want to focus on the success that our program and the girls have had this year,” Dansville head coach Kristen Kershner told The Spectator when the games were initially postponed. “Regardless of what happens in the future, I am very proud of the girls for all they have accomplished the past two years. They are a great bunch of kids who love the game and they’ve worked very hard to reach their success.


“I am very thankful to have had the chance to coach them.”


Avoca closes the book on a historic 23-1 season that included Steuben County and Section V titles.


“This is a tough, tough day. There are no words really. They’ve exceeded expectations all year. They are part of the family,” said Stowe. “It’s amazing to see the outreach of people that have reached out to me, from coaches that we have played against to members of the community. You just don’t see a group like this come around very often. They are just a great bunch of kids that are best friends off the court. They are a very classy group of young individuals. People were pulling for us moving forward and not just because we are Avoca or from Steuben County, but it’s because they are just a great group of kids in general. They built their reputation by putting their heads down and working hard while being a great group of individuals. That’s another reason why today is so heartbreaking if it does end like this.


“I would have loved to see what they could have done.”


Spring sports in doubt, too


With school districts closed for an extended period of time, Sections and schools are individually determining the Spring sport start dates and practice parameters that best meet the needs of the students they represent.


The status of the NYSPHSAA Spring State Championships will be determined on or prior to Monday, April 27.