School closing officially scraps state tournaments

Latta Lady Panther players wait to check into the game during the 2019-20 season. After the state Board of Education voted to shut down all public schools for the remainder of the year, it officially put an end to the hopes that the Latta girls — along with fellow local squads from Ada High and Vanoss High — will get to compete in state basketball tournaments.

It’s officially official.

All remaining Oklahoma high school regular-season and championship events are canceled with the State Board of Education voting to close public school buildings on Wednesday due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

Oklahoma public schools will now face the challenge of distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic calendar. The decision puts an end, however, to all spring semester extracurricular activities.

Class 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A’s boys and girls state basketball tournament will not crown a champion this season, leaving the Ada High boys, Vanoss High girls and Latta High girls without an opportunity to finish their respective seasons.

It also ends all spring sports, which includes baseball, golf, soccer, slow-pitch softball and track and field, that were in early stages of their seasons before all activities were suspended.

“We do feel for the students that will probably not get to play their state basketball tournaments or have a spring season and … spring championships. We know how important those activities are for those students, but we are absolutely in favor of making every effort to keep people safe and healthy,” Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association executive director, David Jackson, told The Tulsa World.

The OSSAA is expected to release a full statement following the organization’s March board meeting. The virtual meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.

On March 16, the state board closed schools until April 6. Wednesday’s action extends closures to May 8-15, or whenever the academic year ends for a particular district.

Oklahoma has crowned basketball state champions every year since 1918 and crowned or acknowledged girls basketball champions every year but one since 1919.

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.

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