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Lancaster County basketball teams wait to practice while NSAA season starts

Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 11:28 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The 2020-2021 NSAA basketball season starts on Thursday across Nebraska. Teams have been practicing across the state this week except in Lancaster County. A current directed health measure prohibits high school and youth team sports through December 7th.

“One of the great things about athletics is it teaches you a lot of life lessons,” Lincoln Pius X head coach Brian Spicka said. “Here’s a nice little hurdle we have to be able to get over to be able to get to our season.”

The current DHM affects teams at 15 different high schools across Lancaster County.

“We’re playing the hand we’re dealt,” Norris head coach Jimmy Motz said. “Once we get the re-deal and get the green light, we’re going.”

Coaches hope the DHM will be lifted starting next week. They say time lost on the practice court may set back the team’s development, while out-of-county opponents are now game ready. In fact, coaches like Spicka and Monte Ritchie at Lincoln Northeast have yet to hold tryouts.

“(Players) have moved on,” Richtie said. “They’re ready for the next step. I feel good about the season, if we’re able to play.”

Many coaches across the area feel practices and games can be held safely during the pandemic. Spicka says his team held off-season workouts and participated in a fall league in Omaha without any COVID-19 cases or exposures.

“We’ve had meetings after meetings after meetings finding ways to keep our kids safe,” Spicka said.

The delayed start could cost area basketball teams up to 20 percent of their schedule. Many coaches say they hope to be playing games 10 to 15 days after practices are allowed. Motz says his team may play as soon as six days following the first practice.

“Obviously, there’s a bigger issue out there going on in society than high school basketball,” Motz said. “Its going to take all of us to make this happen. We’re doing our part. If we want to see our teams in Lancaster County play on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, we all have to be in this together.”

While unable to practice, many teams held workouts virtually via Zoom. Ritchie says he created a daily outline of drills and fundamentals for his players. Teams were allowed to begin conditioning and weight lifting sessions this week. However, all in-person, basketball-specific drills were prohibited.

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