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High school basketball coaches frustrated with season pushed back until Feb. 4

David Goricki
The Detroit News

High school basketball coaches have to fight off prep school offers to their players while trying to prepare for a season that has yet to take place.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association on Thursday released updated schedules for winter sports. For boys and girls basketball, the first non-contact practices start Saturday, with contact practices starting Feb. 1. The first games can begin Feb. 4. 

Lamonta Stone

That pushes districts back the week of March 22, with the finals April 9 and 10.

Competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling also can begin non-contact practice Saturday, with the earliest competition scheduled for Feb. 1 for hockey, and Feb. 8 for competitive cheer and wrestling.

Multiple basketball coaches are frustrated with the news the season again has been pushed back.

River Rouge has one of the top players in the state in 6-foot-7, 220-pound Legend Geeter, who signed with Providence and now is getting calls from prep schools.

“Legend’s dad is getting calls from prep schools who want him to play for them, so there’s vultures out there and I have to fight that off too,” River Rouge coach Lamonta Stone said. “They’re telling him that the state is just prolonging this, and they are not going to have a season, just like in Arizona and Nevada, which already canceled basketball.”

Farmington has lost a pair of players to prep schools with Jaden Akins, who signed with Michigan State, joining Ypsilanti Prep Academy before moving on to Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas and point guard Tariq Humes to Elevation Prep in Fort Wayne.

U-D Jesuit veteran coach Pat Donnelly fears players could join their AAU teams. He has the unenviable task of cutting down rosters with non-contact competition, also having to cancel four games which were set to be played prior to Feb. 1, including Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Jan. 23, followed two days later by Detroit Catholic Central, then Saginaw Arthur Hill and Birmingham Brother Rice.

“We can start non-contact, social-distance practice on Saturday, so there’s going to be a lot of creativity,” said Donnelly who had hoped to have a 15-game regular season prior to the Feb. 4 push-back date. “You have to be creative with how you incorporate teaching and what kind of drills you can do to keep the distance and have no contact.

“We have probably in total for our high school program over 100 kids who are trying out for these teams (freshmen, JV, varsity) so that makes it very difficult because we have to get through tryouts. We’ll be evaluating kids on their skills, on their ability to understand concepts, basketball IQ, if you can gauge that to get down to a roster that’s manageable.”

And, to think the first day of practice or tryouts was originally set for Nov. 16 or two months ago.

“It’s tough to prepare for since you don’t know what’s in front of you," Detroit Edison coach Bo Neely said. "The kids haven’t been in the gym and we’ve yet to practice, they’ve shut us down the day before the first day of practice which was back on Nov. 16. Then, they gave us a Jan. 16 date to start practice, with games on Jan. 22, so it’s going to be a tough year, very unpredictable.

“I don’t know how the kids will respond, you know playing three games a week and practicing sporadically. I don’t know how prepared you can be, but I guess you have to take what you can get since we’ve already missed half the season.”

david.goricki@detroitnews.com

Winter schedules

The MHSAA released updated schedules for winter sports:

Girls basketball

First non-contact practice: Jan. 16

First contact practice: Feb. 1

First contest: Feb. 4

Districts: March 22, 24, 26

Regionals: March 29, 31

Quarterfinals: April 5

Semifinals: April 7

Finals: April 9

Boys basketball

First non-contact practice: Jan. 16

First contact practice: Feb. 1

First contest: Feb. 4

Districts: March 23, 25, 27

Regionals: March 30, April 1

Quarterfinals: April 6

Semifinals: April 8

Finals: April 10

Competitive cheer

First non-contact practice: Jan. 16

First contact practice: Feb. 1

First contest: Feb. 8

Districts: March 15-20

Regionals: March 22-24

Finals: March 26-27

Ice hockey

First non-contact practice: Jan. 16

First contact practice: Feb. 1

First contest: Feb. 1

Regionals: March 15-20

Quarterfinals: March 23

Semifinals: March 25-26

Finals: March 27

Wrestling

First non-contact practice: Jan. 16

First contact practice: Feb. 1

First contest: Feb. 8

Districts: March 15-20

Regionals: March 22-28

Team Finals: March 31

Individual Finals: April 2-3