CHAPEL HILL — After Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement Monday of an executive order closing all North Carolina public schools through May 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association followed suit by suspending all state athletics until at least May 18. The declaration casts further doubt on the possible resumption of spring sports and the chances of holding the state basketball championships.

“The NCHSAA Board of Directors and staff will use the next few weeks to weigh our future decisions based on the new directions given by Governor Cooper, other government leaders, and organizations charged with public health and safety during this unprecedented time,” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said in a statement.

The Newton-Conover girls basketball team was among the 16 squads scheduled to play in a state title game on March 14 when play was originally suspended through April 6. The third-seeded Red Devils were slated to battle top-seeded Farmville Central in the 2A state championship at the Dean E. Smith Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The remaining 2A and 4A championship contests were also set to take place at the Dean E. Smith Center, while the 1A and 3A title games were to be held at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of North Carolina State University. Third-seeded Freedom was scheduled to face top-seeded Westover in the 3A boys’ championship.

If it is eventually determined that the state title games will still be held, the availability of those venues is also uncertain. According to Tucker, the NCHSAA remains optimistic that high school athletics will start again at some point, although the health and safety of all involved is the most important aspect of any decision.

“While we remain hopeful that we will be able to resume competition, particularly for our senior student-athletes,” said Tucker, “we also recognize the need to protect the health and safety of our students, coaches and the communities we serve.”

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