At last, a sense of normalcy.
Saint Louis 53, Damien* 42.
There was a basketball game on Friday night in the brand-new T.C. Ching Athletic Center at Kalaepohaku, and an exhibition at that. The first hoops contest in a high school facility since last winter pitted the Crusaders against a club team comprised of Damien players.
Saint Louis Coach Dan Hale and Damien Coach Keith Spencer agreed to specified COVID-19 protocols before the matchup. With basketball season among five winter sports cancelled by the private-school Interscholastic League of Honolulu, some programs are exploring alternative options. It’s a better situation for the private schools. The public-school Oahu Interscholastic Association cancelled all winter sports, leaving players and coaches with no facilities to use for exhibitions.
The liability issue is a major part of the equation for OIA hoopsters. Saint Louis has support from top to bottom.
“The game went very well, very competitive and safe,” Hale said. “Masks on, social distanced bench and no spectators. All good. It was a fun game. It was close in the fourth quarter.”
Prior to the game, there was some external criticism, but the process never stalled.
“There’s always pressure,” Hale noted. “But a lot more support.”
Saint Louis has a second exhibition on the slate against a club team today (Wednesday). Damien has Saint Louis on its schedule in February, and hopes to play Hanalani, as well.
“We have great support from our administration. All of us are very committed to providing a safe sports experience for our Saint Louis students. Our protocols are extensive, including playing in masks. We don’t have testing, but are looking into it,” Hale said. “Nothing is going to be 100 percent, but we feel confident in what we are doing, and so far it seems to be effective. We want to provide as safe a place as we can for our students to play. As an educational institution, we feel obligated to do what we can.”
The protocols also included symptom check at the door, banding verification, limited rosters and frequent hand sanitizing, Hale added.
“No jump ball, and the game ball swapped out at every break and sanitized,” he said. “There are other protocols, as well.”
Other schools, including Kamehameha and Mid-Pacific, have indicated that they will not partake of any exhibition games. Kamehameha boys basketball coach Larry Park and MPI boys basketball coach Robert Shklov confirmed that the teams will remain in skills workouts only.
“I can’t comment on what other schools are doing. They have to do what they feel comfortable doing,” Hale said. “I just know this is what we are comfortable doing here at Saint Louis.”