Basketball season is underway in some parts but high school action gets started locally on Tuesday.
Both Brindlee Mountain and Arab will open at home. The Lions will host four games (varsity and junior varsity boys and girls) against Skyline, beginning at 4 p.m.
Arab will host four games, three of them against teams from Randolph: the JV boys, beginning at 4:15; the varsity girls, beginning at 5:45 p.m.; and the varsity boys, beginning at 7:15 p.m.
The ninth grade boys will play Fairview beginning at 5:15 p.m. Randolph doesn’t have a JV girls team.
When the Arab JV girls do play at home (and they will the following Friday, Nov. 13, against Albertville) the site will be the auxiliary gym. Same goes for the JV boys and ninth grade boys. Only the varsity boys and girls teams will play in the new gym this season. That decision was made by school officials this week as they try to deal with crowd restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the back of every coaches’ minds is the possibility of games being lost or even the season being curtailed because of the pandemic. Every week during the football season, there was a lengthy list of games that were postponed or canceled, and the memory of what happened to spring sports earlier this year is still fresh in everyone’s minds.
To that end, Arab City Schools announced this week that students in Grades 7-12 will return to a hybrid A/B schedule beginning today, because of an increase in positive COVID-19 cases (see story, Page 1A).
Brindlee Mountain Middle School and Arab Junior High have already begun playing their seasons. The Middle Lions’ boys and girls teams played their first games on Monday.
Arab’s seventh and eighth grade boys and girls teams played their first games last Thursday and each squad already has three games in the books (see roundups, Page 3B). All four Arab teams play again today, at Albertville.
COVID-19 already has put its stamp on local basketball teams, in different ways. Brindlee Mountain had to replace its scheduled opener against Oakwood Adventist because that school suspended athletic activities until at least Jan. 1. In fact, on Oakwood’s website, there is a message to high school and middle school boys and girls to come out for basketball tryouts.
Arab boys coach Justin Jonus also contends that basketball programs in general – and his in particular – have been the hardest hit because of the pandemic – at least from a preparation standpoint.
“Of course, baseball and the other spring sports had their seasons end early, but now they’ll be on a normal schedule to return,” Jonus said. “I’ve got five football players who haven’t touched a basketball in seven months.”
The AHSAA allowed winter sports teams some extra time in late summer and August to get ready for their seasons. All sports teams usually have formal summer workout periods, but not this unusual year.
“I’ve just told my players to get out there and shoot the basketball as much as you can,” said Jonus, whose job is made more difficult because he’s lost 10 seniors off last year’s squad.
“Usually, we’d have everything installed by now. But everybody’s in the same boat.”