The Western Conference Basketball Tournament tips off on Thursday, Dec. 3, but it will look different from years past.
For starters, the tournament will be played at Scottsbluff and Gering high schools. In the past, games were played at Scottsbluff and Gering with the semifinals and championship games played at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.
The players usually play in front of a packed house. This year, fans will be limited.
“Right now, we’re going to let in four (people) in the (player’s) household,” Scottsbluff activities director Dave Hoxworth said. “So, we will have four people per participant who will be able to come in (to watch).”
Hoxworth, though, said fans won’t be able to attend all of the games.
“Fans can only come and watch their game,” he said. “We will have the (4 p.m.) game with one group of people. Then, we will usher them out the door before the (6 p.m.) game.”
Hoxworth said tickets won’t be issued for the games.
“The schools are going to make lists (of people in each player’s household who may attend),” he said. “We’re going to do a list for each participant. To get into the game, they will have to be on that list.”
For fans and family who will not be allowed to attend, the games will be livestreamed on KNEB.com.
Fans in attendance will be required to wear masks and social distance amongst household groups.
“The main thing is having people make sure that they simply monitor themselves,” he said. “That’s the most important thing people can do to help us out.”
Fans will not be subjected to any other health measures.
“We did temperature checks for the (West Nebraska) All-Star (volleyball) game,” he said. “We haven’t done that since. Back then, no one was wearing masks. Very few people were (wearing masks) it wasn’t quite what it is today.”
Players, though, will not be required to wear masks during game play.
“That will be up to the players’ whether they want to (wear a mask), or not (while they’re in the game),” Hoxworth said. “They will be wearing masks on the bench when they’re not in the game.”
Hoxworth said the rules for players will be similar to what was in place during the fall season.
“Just like volleyball, when you come out of the game (the player has to wear a mask),” he said. “Our plan is to have a place for kids to come out and sit down, cool down a little bit. They can then get a drink and get their mask on to join the rest of the team on the bench. That’s our thought process. We’ll have kids go to a secondary bench before they go and join the rest of the team.”
The tournament field will also be smaller after losing two Colorado teams that normally play in the tournament. Colorado’s prep sports won’t begin play until January, leaving the Western Conference tournament with six teams in the boys and girls brackets.
In the girls tournament, Chadron and Mitchell tip off at 4 p.m. in Scottsbluff in the first game on Thursday, Dec. 3. Sidney and Gering will play at 6 p.m. in Scottsbluff. Scottsbluff and Alliance plays at 8 p.m. in Gering.
The Scottsbluff and Chadron boys tip off at 4 p.m. in Gering, followed by Alliance and Sidney at 6 p.m. Mitchell and Gering play at 8 p.m. in Scottsbluff.
The semifinals and consolation games will be played Friday, Dec 4. The championship games and consolation finals will be played Saturday, Dec. 5.
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