Justice Urias attempts to dribble past a Fort Thomas player at the season opener of Lobo basketball January 19. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

The PUHS girls and boys basketball teams played their first games of the 2021 season at home on Jan. 19. The boys’ team won their game, 32–25. The girls’ team lost to Fort Thomas School, with a final score of 75–31. 

In a normal year, the high school basketball season kicks off in late November, but the pandemic caused the Arizona Interscholastic Assn. (AIA) to first delay, and then, on Jan. 8, to cancel the 2021 winter high school sports season. 

However, the AIA executive board then reversed that decision on Jan. 12, allowing sports to resume.

“David Hines, the AIA executive director, said that [Jan. 8] decision brought about harassment and threats to some AIA board members,” according to an article posted on Arizona Sports.com. 

This most recent decision left it up to individual school districts to decide whether to participate in winter sports. The AIA made it mandatory that everyone in attendance must wear a mask, including players on the court, and coaches are required to exchange COVID-19 monitoring forms. Although the AIA modified their original rule that no fans were allowed at games to allow up to two parents or guardians to attend, the Patagonia School District does not allow spectators. 

According to Nate Porter, PUHS athletic director, the teams are scheduled to play 18 games in the regular season which will end March 2, followed by the state playoffs.

“Everything is really crammed because they kept pushing it back hoping things would get better,” he said. “The kids are really excited. It’s been a rollercoaster for them. We’re excited that they get an opportunity to play, especially the upper classmen. High school athletics are an important outlet for kids in a small town.”