Coronavirus health and safety protocols start to impact high school sports

Jared McCain of Corona Centennial.
(Jeremiah Soifer )

It was a week of uncertainty for high school sports in Southern California, with teams at all levels dealing with health and safety protocols because of a surge in coronavirus. Somehow, someway, officials for the Damien basketball tournament made the most of an unpredictable situation that saw more than 40 teams from an original group of 88 drop out by Day 4.

“I think we’ve done as good as we possibly could following all the protocols,” Damien coach Mike LeDuc said.

Thursday’s championship game in the Platinum Division was called off after Riverside Poly pulled out because of COVID protocols. Another tournament finalist, Long Beach Poly, also couldn’t play. Corona Centennial, the other Platinum finalist, ended up playing Crean Lutheran, the finalist from the Gold Division. Centennial won 66-56 to improve to 12-1.

Getting in four games this week was an accomplishment in itself. And completing the tournament had coaches offering praise to Damien, because tournament officials were able to match up teams quickly and effectively when other schools couldn’t play for safety reasons or a positive test.

South Pasadena canceled all the remaining games in its tournament Thursday. Oak Park and Oak Hills joined Riverside Poly and Long Beach Poly in not playing their final games of the Damien tournament. Even girls’ water polo was affected, with Santa Ana Mater Dei pulling out of a tournament in Orange County.

Next week, league play begins for a number of teams and already postponements are being announced. Athletic directors might have to return to the mode of the 2020-21 season when they were busy rescheduling games and officials on a weekly basis depending on test results. Public and private schools will have to adjust schedules based on school and county protocol requirements.


“Every school is going to test,” LeDuc said. “I think if you meet the protocols, you’re probably going to play.”

Damien 61, Utah American Fork 58: The Spartans (16-1) received 25 points from Spivey Word.

Sheldon 61, St. John Bosco 59: The Braves dropped the Damien tournament game.

Rolling Hills Prep 63, San Joaquin Memorial 55: Benny Gealer had 19 points and eight assists and Kenny Manzi had 18 points for 13-1 Rolling Hills Prep.

Idaho Owyhee 65, Etiwanda 57: Former Harvard-Westlake guard Liam Campbell scored 26 points for Owyhee. Quinton Webb had 26 points for Etiwanda.

Rancho Cucamonga 48, San Gabriel Academy 43: Tournament MVP Shadale Knight had 21 points in the Silver Division final.

Utah Lone Peak 67, Santa Clarita Christian 62: Jaden Tengan had 28 points for Santa Clarita Christian.

Newport Harbor 67, Palm Desert 54: Jake Read scored 24 points to help Newport Harbor win the Century tournament.

Mater Dei 55, De La Salle 54: Jack McCloskey had 15 points and Zack Davidson 15 to lead the Monarchs.

Edison 56, Capistrano Valley 49: The Chargers won the Indio tournament, with Tyler Hampton earning MVP honors.

Tesoro 82, Long Beach Millikan 56: The Titans are 15-3 and were led by Carson Brown’s 21 points.

Simi Valley 57, Hart 54: Jack Benyshek scored 16 points for the Pioneers.

Los Alamitos 41, Chaparral 36: The Griffins won the Tustin tournament. Tyler Matthews was named tournament MVP after scoring 15 points.

Foothill 66, Utah Brighton 58: Jake Horton was tournament MVP for Foothill in the Holiday Classic in San Diego.

Girls’ basketball

Camarillo 49, Hamilton 27: The Scorpions (17-0) won the West Coast Holiday Festival championship behind Gabriela Jaquez, who scored 30 points.

Oxnard 68, Rio Mesa 24: Oxnard won the Santa Clara tournament. Kristan Yumul scored 23 points.

Ontario Christian 71, Rowland 34: Chloe Briggs scored 20 points as Ontario Christian improved to 12-0 in winning its own tourney title.

Bishop Alemany 54, Moreau Catholic 50: The Warriors (8-3) received 14 points from Alondra Lizama.

Taft 47, Highland 36: The Toreadors won their division of West Coast Holiday tournament to improve to 8-4.

Girls’ water polo

Laguna Beach 10, Newport Harbor 9: Ava Knepper scored four goals and Lexi Parness had three to help No. 1-ranked Laguna Beach win the Bill Barnett Holiday Cup championship in overtime. Earlier, Laguna Beach defeated Foothill 8-7.

Girls’ wrestling

Katie Gomez of Lake Balboa Birmingham won her third consecutive individual title at the Queen of the Hill finals in Corona, winning the 121-pound division.