The Paloma Valley High School Lady Wildcats were on a roll, embarking on the CIF State basketball championships, which were scheduled to be played at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento this past weekend. Obviously, the state games were canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus COVID-19.
CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti made the announcement after a conference call Thursday, March 12, at 9 a.m. was held with participating teams from all over the state.
“This decision was made after careful deliberation and in the primary interest of protecting the health and safety of our member schools, fans and most importantly, our student-athletes,” according to the release.
The decision impacted eight Southern California teams, seven from the CIF Southern Section and a Los Angeles City Section team: Lancaster Eastside boys (Division V), Lancaster High girls (Division IV), Paloma Valley girls (Division III), St. Francis boys (Division II), Palisades Charter girls (Division II), Rosary Academy girls (Division I), Ribet Academy boys (Division I) and Sierra Canyon boys (Open Division).
In their final game, Paloma Valley had to battle to the end, which was expected. They hit six free throws down the stretch to seal a 60-48 win over Peninsula High School. The win was their 19th straight, which improved their record 34-3 this season, and was the best in the school’s history. The Lady Wildcats would have taken on Albany St. Mary’s High School for the state title Friday afternoon, March 13, in Sacramento had things panned out.
Paloma Valley girls’ basketball coach Matt Dale told reporters, “I completely respect the decision. What is happening right now is way bigger than a few high school basketball games.”
Dale said the team had planned to leave for Sacramento Thursday morning. He and school administrators had to break the news to the players that the game had been canceled.
“Of course, there is disappointment I’m feeling, starting with my seniors (Leslie Giles and Isabella Villegas) who have been part of this four-year journey. This would have been a crowning achievement for them, and unfortunately, they won’t get that chance. It is almost like this is worse than losing. Not playing your best and getting beat is one thing, but not to be able to measure yourself against the moment is a tough feeling to have,” he said.
JP Raineri can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.