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High school basketball Christmas tournaments in jeopardy if season is delayed

Sierra Canyon’s Brandon Boston goes up against Santa Clarita Christian’s Kaleb Lowery, left, and Caden Starr last season.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

One of the busiest times of the year for high school basketball teams is Christmas vacation. Numerous tournaments are played from morning to night because of the availability of gyms and the break from classes.

If the start of the basketball season is delayed until February under one contingency plan under consideration by the CIF because of COVID-19 issues, it would be difficult to duplicate similar tournaments later in the season.

“I have been thinking about it for a month,” said Damien coach Mike LeDuc, who runs the 88-team Classic at Damien, scheduled for Dec. 26-30 at seven gym sites.

LeDuc said he had received no information or hints as to when the season might begin as the CIF, the state governing body for high school sports, continued to evaluate what the 2020-21 sports calendar might look like. A decision on a calendar is scheduled to be announced by July 20.

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Among issues are the number of nonleague and league games schools will play, as well as whether a state tournament will be held.

“Yes, it’s tough to have any tournament, not just the big one, until the CIF tells us how many weeks for nonleague games and how many league games,” LeDuc said. “It’s hard to talk about what the tournament will look like until CIF decides. They are aware of all the schools’ nonleague schedules. We’re preparing to have it just in case we can. If they move the season and there’s a window, we’ll try to have with as many teams as possible.”

The uncertainly is making it difficult for teams to schedule tournaments out of state because of travel concerns. Defending state champion Chatsworth Sierra Canyon played tournaments in eight different states last season. That’s unlikely to happen under any scenario this season.

If the season is reduced, LeDuc said the priority should be having time to play nonleague games and in a section championships rather than playing in a state tournament. “I think our nonleague schedule is important for everybody,” he said. “In my one opinion, I think leagues are not as important as they used to be.”

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These issues and others will be discussed depending on how the 10 sections in the state decide to proceed on a 2020-2021 sports season.


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