Arizona officials put a halt to high school sports in their state amidst COVID-19 spike; how could this affect Washington? Also, former WA hoopster stars in Utah HS boys’ hoops team’s win over top rival

Good Saturday morning. Yesterday was a busy day down in Arizona, as decisions were made which could ultimately affect athletes in Washington and other states as everyone continues the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

The state, as some of you may have heard in the news, is seeing a huge spike in virus cases, and according to the Arizona Republic, the state is reporting almost 10,000 deaths from the virus since the outset of the pandemic last March. Those factors led the Arizona Interscholastic Activities Association’s executive board to vote yesterday to cancel the state’s high school winter sports season. The AIA is Arizona’s high school sports governing body.

Board members, on the advice of the organization’s sports medicine folks, voted 5-4 to cancel winter sports after having previously delayed the start of those to later this month. The decision, as you might guess, was met with anger and disappointment, and also, as we noted, could impact athletes here in Washington.

In the immediate term, the decision already has affected at least one family with Washington ties. As we told you back in November, former Lynden Christian basketball coach Roger DeBoer revealed in an interview with Scorebook Live Washington, a top high school sports news website in Washington, that he and his family had relocated to Arizona. Two of his sons had made the varsity boys’ basketball team at the school they had enrolled at in the Phoenix area and were awaiting the start of the season when the decision was announced. DeBoer, who runs Cloud 9 Sports, an athletic supply company that has done a lot of business over the years with Mount Si High School athletic programs, and this past spring manufactured the Wildcat boys’ basketball 2020 state championship T-shirts and other memorabilia, had moved his family down there to pursue additional business opportunities for his company with Arizona having been open for fall sports, including football. With the state’s decision to shut things down for the winter, those opportunities could now dry up for the DeBoer’s, potentially forcing the family to move again, perhaps back to Washington.

It also could influence Washington high school leaders in their decision-making process as it pertains to our state’s high school sports restart. As you know, on Wednesday, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s board voted to start fall sports on February 1 depending on whether regions have moved into phase 2 of the new state COVID-19 restart plan announced by Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday. However, a lot of decisions have yet to be made, and those are expected at the board’s next meeting on January 19.

Over the longer-term, though, the suddenness of the decision is likely to prompt more pressure on youth sports tournament organizers in Arizona to continue their events and increase their scope in the state. Youth tournaments have as of yet not been shut down in the state, but if the case numbers continue to be a problem, that becomes more likely with every passing day, and if tournaments are shut down, that will impact potentially a lot of Washington youth athletes. Arizona at the moment is the primary destination for athletes from our state to go compete in club tournament action, and there happens to be an event going on this weekend in Phoenix involving a team featuring a Cedarcrest High School softball player.

Red Wolves’ Hulse chips in for select squad: CHS’ Kaylee Hulse went 1-3 last night for her club squad, the Issaquah-based Washington Ladyhawks Abraham 16U team, as they fell in the opener of the Arizona Winter Invitational to Phoenix-based Rogue FC, 6-3. The Abraham unit is one of two Washington-based teams in the tournament, which has drawn a number of teams largely from Arizona, Nevada and California together for the first big weekend tournament of 2021. Redmond High’s Karli Kostoff went 2-3 for the Hawks, who play two games today in the tournament.

We’ll keep you posted on what happens this weekend in the desert.

Basketball: Big night in Utah for former Washington hoopster
Earlier this week, we mentioned here that we had watched a game online on Tuesday night from Utah featuring former Washington high school boys basketball player Ethan Copeland, who led his team, Lone Peak High School from near Provo, to a big win at home. Well, we watched another Utah game last night online, featuring another former Evergreen State hoopster, and he, too, got the job done, helping his squad to a win in a highly-anticipated showdown.

Senior Mason Landdeck, a former player from Zillah High School in the Yakima Valley, had a double-double of 22 points and 10 assists last night to lead his team from St. George’s Desert Hills High School to a solid 92-78 win over area rival Crimson Cliffs High School in a well-played, fast-paced game inside the Desert Hills gymnasium. The win moved Desert Hills to 10-0 on the year. The two teams were ranked one (Crimson Cliffs) and two (Desert Hills) in the state’s most recent 4A high school boys’ basketball rankings put out by the Utah High School Activities Association. 4A in Utah in their six-class system would be similar to a high 2A or low 3A in Washington.

Landdeck is leading Desert Hills in scoring, averaging almost 22 points a contest thus far, but he is also leading the team in assists, averaging around six or seven of those. He and Copeland are among four former Washington high school boys basketball players who transferred to Utah schools last summer amidst Washington’s high school sports shutdown. Copeland is a former Sunnyside High School player.

Desert Hills is at Snow Canyon High School, also in St. George, next Wednesday for their next game. The season in Utah will wrap up next month.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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