With a few games left on their respective schedules and a chance at making the state playoffs, Estancia High School’s boys and girls basketball seasons came to a premature end this week due to Covid-19.
Estancia’s girls’ basketball team had three remaining games scheduled this week and the boys’ team had two. Both teams would have wrapped up their regular-season games by Saturday—but all games were canceled Tuesday due to positive cases among students.
“I’m super-limited on what I can say because of HIPPA, but we did the contact tracing and followed the PED’s guidelines, and it just became impossible for us to continue,” Estancia High School athletic director Stewart Burnett said.
A message posted on April 25 on the Estancia Municipal School District’s Facebook page says: “…because of mid and high school COVID positive students … Estancia Schools will move to remote learning for ALL grades, PreK-12.”
The Facebook post also says that the number of close-contact students at the high school is nearly a third of the student body. The post finished with: “For this reason, we are taking an extra cautious approach to prevent any further spread of the virus.”
That Facebook post followed on the heels of one two days earlier, that said a positive Covid case of a teacher had led to a return to remote classes for elementary and middle school students.
The New Mexico Activities Association is scheduled to release the seeding brackets this weekend for the high school basketball postseason that is slated to get underway next week.
“The biggest bummer of this whole deal is the timing with how it affects the program and with the proximity to the postseason,” Burnett said.
Estancia’s boys basketball team was riding a five-game winning streak and sitting on a 5-1 overall record and 4-0 in District 2-2A. With a win over Menaul School this week, the Bears would’ve won their district and received an automatic berth to the playoffs.
Instead, the Bears’ 68-14 romp over Tierra Encantada on April 24 will now be their final game of this Covid-delayed spring season.
“It’s tough, I mean, having to make those phone calls, especially to the seniors, that was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a coach, to let them know it’s over,” Bears head coach Daniel Pierce said.
Pierce said he felt the team had a good opportunity to beat Menaul and win district.
“That’s the hard thing,” Pierce said. “Making the state tournament the last five years, they were excited, and it all fell apart.”
The Lady Bears also trounced Tierra Encantada on April 24, 52-13, for their final game. They had a 3-3 overall record, were 3-1 in district, and head coach J.C. Batts also felt they had a shot and getting into the playoffs.
“It’s so unfortunate. We were following protocol and once again this thing is making decisions for them,” Batts said, referring to Covid and his players. “I believe, and the girls believe, they could’ve made a push for state. I feel really bad for the kids.”
All Estancia athletics are on hold for the time being, but Burnett said he doesn’t think the current Covid situation will impact spring sports.