New York state officially cancels winter championships

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CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. — Cambridge girls basketball coach Bob Phillips figured it would have happened sooner or later, so he wasn't completely shocked when he saw.

On Monday morning, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association made the cancellation of the rest of the winter championships official.

"I saw it in the morning and it was disappointing, but not totally unexpected," Phillips said.

When the games were stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Indians were 22-1 and getting ready for a regional game against Section X winner St. Lawrence.

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"As coaches and players, you're together for the long winter sports season and there's a lot of time and effort put into it, so you hope to keep going, but in the long run, it was a good decision," Phillips said.

Along with girls basketball, three other championships have been canceled — boys basketball, ice hockey and bowling. In a press release on Monday, NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas said that plans are being developed to recognize students and teams who qualified to participate in the championships.

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"It is with great disappointment that we make the decision to cancel the remaining winter championship events," Zayas said. "Our association's focus is to benefit students through participation in interscholastic athletics and unfortunately this rapidly developing situation has prevented our association from providing a quality championship experience. We certainly sympathize for the students who are being impacted by this crisis but at this time they deserve honesty from the leadership of our association."

Phillips said he's been in contact with his team since school was closed last week.

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"They are disappointed, they want to compete but they are reasonable as well, they understand the way it is why it is," Phillips said.

"This is one of the most difficult decisions the Officers of the NYSPHSAA have ever had to make," said Paul Harrica, the president of the association. "It has been determined it is not feasible for the winter state championships to be hosted in a safe and beneficial manner for the participating student-athletes and their teams in the near future. The health and safety of the students we serve will always be our top priority."

While the team can't play it out to see who would have become Class C championships, Phillips said what the team did accomplish is impressive.

"As a JV and varsity combined, we were 39-4," Phillips said. "We were also ranked No. 1 from start to finish. It was there for the taking. I think we could have competed and won, but the other teams think that as well."


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