WHSAA scraps state basketball tourney, cancels spring sports


After one game, the WHSAA shut down the Class 3A/4A basketball tournament at the request of the Natrona County Department of Health.

Jeremiah Johnke, wyosports.new Sports Editor

Reprinted with permission

CHEYENNE – When it shut down the Class 4A and 3A state basketball tournaments (on March 13), the Wyoming High School Activities Association left a sliver of hope the tournament might continue once the dust settled with the novel coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic.

That changed Friday afternoon (March 14) when the WHSAA announced the tournament would not be played this year.

“We understand the tremendous disappointment this decision is for our student-athletes, especially our seniors,” the WHSAA board said in a news release, “but please realize that we must be a responsible state organization, and that our highest priority is ensuring the safety of our students, schools and communities.”

The first tournament games were underway Thursday when the WHSAA first announced the remainder of the event would be played without fans or media in attendance. The WHSAA later shut down the tournament under direction of the Casper-Natrona County Health Department.

The WHSAA also announced Friday it was suspending all extracurricular activities statewide until March 28.

Soccer and track and field practice started Monday. The first competitions were scheduled for March 19.

Laramie County School District 1 is keeping Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East and Cheyenne South out of competition until the district returns from spring break April 6.

The WHSAA left it up to local school districts to decide whether they would allow their teams to continue to practice during the competition moratorium.

LCSD1 will allow its teams to practice. LCSD2 also is planning to let Burns and Pine Bluffs conduct practice.

The school districts and WHSAA said they will adjust their plans depending on developments with COVID-19.

“The WHSAA staff will continue to work diligently with the state entities that are experts in this area and follow their guidance as we proceed in determining the best course of action with the remainder of spring activities,” the WHSAA release said. “We encourage all our schools to do the same with their local and county experts.

“We appreciate your patience and support of our students as we work through this complex situation.”

Central girls basketball players were hopeful their tournament would continue after they picked up a 62-37 victory over Green River on Thursday morning. However, most knew their seasons were most likely over making for a tear-filled bus ride back to the Capital City, Lady Indians coach Glen Kirkbride said.

“There’s nobody to blame for this, but I really feel bad for our kids,” Kirkbride said. “This was a really abrupt ending for them. We were all in shock and a little bit of denial, and we were hoping this thing might get rescheduled.

“It was a tough bus ride home. A we were getting off the bus that I told them I would let them know if something changed, and I made sure I told them how proud I was of them and what we did this season.”

Cheyenne East girls coach Eric Westling described his team’s bus ride home as sad but said his ballclub cherished what ended up being its final time together.

“We actually went out and ate together as a team after we got back,” he said. “That was the coolest thing. They were disappointed, but they know who they are and what they’ve accomplished.”

Update by Thunderbolt Staff – April 10

Due to continuing concerns about COVID-19, there will be no spring sports season for the state’s prep athletes or other activities, the Wyoming High School Activities Association announced on April 7.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird said in a note to activities directors around the state. “However, … not only is it difficult to predict when it will be safe to return, there are no assurances any of our communities would be allowed to host our events.”

Laird called it “a sad day” for the organization. In a statement, WHSAA’s board members said they made the decision to cancel the spring season “with deep regret” — and that they understand “the overwhelming disappointment this decision is for our student athletes, especially our seniors.”