There will be no North-South all-star basketball or football games this summer.
Both were canceled on Wednesday as the nation continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Art Petitto of the North-South Basketball Classic told the Charleston Gazette that safety was the most important issue.
“The West Virginia Athletic Directors Association couldn’t ensure the safety of all involved,” he said.
The game, usually played in mid-June, was rescheduled for either July 10 or 11 at the South Charleston Community Center.
The game was to be the high school basketball swan song for a quartet of local athletes — Chapmanville Regional High School’s Andrew Shull and Obinna Killen, Logan High School’s David Early, and Mingo Central High School’s Drew Hatfied.
Killen averaged 20.3 points for the Tigers this year during his senior season. The Marshall University signee and Class AA First-Team-All-State pick led Chapmanville to a 22-2 campaign this year before the season was ended early due to the national shutdown.
Killen and the Tigers made it as far as the Class AA regional finals before the season was shut down. The Tigers, the two-time defending state champions, had been searching for a third straight state crown.
Shull, a University of Rio Grande signee and senior guard, averaged 16 points a game this season and was a Third-Team All-State selection by the media.
Early, who is also headed to Marshall alongside Killen, averaged 28.5 points a game this season for Logan, which ended its season at 16-8. The Wildcats had also advanced to the regional finals and were looking for their first trip to the state tournament in eight years.
Early was a First-Team All-State pick and was second in the Bill Evans Player of the Year voting. Killen was third.
During his senior season on the hardwood for the Miners, Hatfield finished fifth in the Cardinal Conference in scoring as he averaged 21.2 points per game and five plus assists per contest. He finished his career with 1,845 total points and is the leading scorer in the history of MCHS scoring 1,140 points in his career for the Miners.
The basketball series was revived in 1983 after a layoff and hadn’t missed a year since. The North won last year 171-141, setting a record for points, but trails in the series 29-8 since its resumption.
Also wiped out was the annual North-South All-Star football game, which was also set to be played in July at South Charleston High School.
The North-South football series started in 1934 and was played every year through World War II and beyond until 1955. The game was not played from 1956-75 but resumed in 1976 and was played every year since.
Logan County originally had three athletes were were picked to play in the North-South football game — Chapmanville’s Chase Berry and Man High School’s Quentin Moody and Zach Frye.
“It is with deep regret that after a thorough review of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Executive Committee of the WVSACA has decided to cancel the 2020 Friday Night Rivals (WCHS-TV/WVAH-TV) North-South Football Classic,” read a statement on the North-South’s Facebook page. “We simply must put the health and safety of everyone involved ahead of our desire to host this very special event. This decision was made after consultation with many different governmental agencies and our legal representation.
“The Executive Committee would like to recognize the tireless efforts of North-South Football Game Director Bob Mullett. He works every day exploring ways to have this game and provide a special experience for the players.
“We extend our thoughts to the players selected, both coaching staffs, and other professionals involved in the game. This has been a very difficult spring for West Virginia’s student-athletes who have had to miss out on so many special events. We will be presenting the players with their practice jersey, courtesy of the West Virginia State Police, along with their game jersey, and a North-South Player certificate. The Executive Committee of the WVSACA looks forward to having the North-South Football Classic in June 2021.”
North Marion coach Daran Hays, scheduled to lead the North this year, was filled with disappointment when the news came down.
“I got a hold of most the kids already, sent them all text messages and called the ones that had questions, but I guess we’re out,” Hays told the Charleston Gazette. “I felt awful calling the kids. This group of kids have had so much taken from them. And you felt like you were throwing a bone to those kids and a lot of them were really looking forward to it. The number one question I got from most of them was, ‘Can I still buy a jersey, so at least I have a memento?’”