The Northwest Athletic Conference Basketball Championships that began Thursday morning at Everett Community College have been suspended.
The move came after Everett CC officials closed the campus for extensive cleaning to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The school is scheduled to reopen Monday.
After the closure of the campus, it was learned that an Everett CC student tested positive for COVID-19, the school said.
“Though it’s disappointing, we stand by the decisions that had to be made,” NWAC executive director Marco Azurdia said.
The 16-team women’s tournament began Thursday morning at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center, which is located on campus. Two of the eight scheduled games were completed before the campus shut down: Wenatchee Valley beat Tacoma 70-48 and Mount Hood defeated Whatcom 75-72. North Idaho and Lower Columbia were in the middle of their game when the decision was made to suspend the tournament at approximately 12:15 p.m. That game was allowed to finish, with North Idaho defeating Lower Columbia 53-50. Four second-round games were scheduled for Friday.
The Everett CC women’s team was preparing to take the floor against Umpqua at 2 p.m. when coach Chet Hovde was informed the rest of the games were being postponed.
“Everybody was there,” Everett CC women’s coach Chet Hovde said, saying no teams had backed out from fear of the coronavirus. “I talked to a couple of the Oregon coaches, the Lane and Clackamas coaches, and they were disappointed, they made the trip all the way up here.
“It’s disappointing, because there was a lot of work put into this,” Hovde added. “Marco did a tremendous job, he’s been up here three days, there were fans in the gym. It’s just a mess. I hope they come up with a solution.”
The first two rounds of the 16-team men’s tournament were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. The semifinal and championship games for both the men and women were scheduled for March 14 and 15.
Azurdia said he’d like to see the tournament resume next week, and he hoped a decision on the path forward could be made by Saturday. However, the logistics of rescheduling the tournament may require a longer delay. While Azurdia didn’t rule Everett CC out as a location, he said it was unlikely.
“What we’re trying to do is figure out where we go next in terms of the tournament,” Azurdia said. “What is available? Does one site have the ability to handle both (the men and the women)? Do we split them up? And then what happens if we’re able to go to a location, then a day or two before something else happens?
“There’s all these crazy moving parts, so the stars have to align.”
This is just the latest in what’s been a difficult school year for NWAC championships. Most notably, the soccer championships in November were hindered when copper wiring was stolen from Starfire Sports in Tukwila, rendering the field lights inoperative and playing havoc with the schedule.