Virus forces Dover boys, Cape girls to host semifinal tourney games tonight

Thanks to coronavirus concerns, the DIAA state basketball tournaments have a new schedule.

Both the boys’ and girls’ semifinals are scheduled tonight. All will be home games for teams with the better seed, except the No. 1 Sanford vs. No. 5 Appoquinimink boys’ game which will be hosted at St. Mark’s School at 7 p.m.

It means both the Dover High boys and Cape Henlopen High girls, the two lone Henlopen Conference teams remaining, will play at home tonight.

Dover, seeded third in the tournament, will face No. 18 seed St. Andrew’s tonight at 6:30 p.m. The Cape Henlopen girls, seeded second, host their semifinal contest tonight at 7 p.m. against third seed Sanford.

The other girls’ semifinal has top seed Conrad hosting No. 5 St. Elizabeth at 6:30 p.m.

The girls’ semifinals were originally scheduled for Wednesday night while the boys’ are going on as scheduled tonight, just at different sites.

The DIAA announced the championship rounds of the boys, girls and unified tournaments are tentatively scheduled for Saturday with sites and times to be determined. The unified finals features a pair of downstate squads with Dover and Caesar Rodney squaring off for the championship.

The tournament is in this predicament after the original host for the semifinals and finals, the University of Delaware, decided on Tuesday night it would no longer have the games at the campus’ Bob Carpenter Center due to the growing concerns on the spreading of the coronavirus.

When UD made its decision on Tuesday, there were no confirmed cases of the virus in the state. But the state’s first confirmed case was announced on Wednesday.

The DIAA also announced how fans who already purchased tickets to the games at the Bob Carpenter Center could be refunded.

“Those who paid with a credit card will be automatically refunded within 3-5 business days. Anyone who has paid with cash or check will be contacted by the UD Ticket Office. Please contact the UD Ticket Office at (302) 831-2257 or with any questions in regards to the refund of tickets,” the DIAA said in a statement.

Tickets for tonight’s games are $6 and will be sold at the schools.

For the game at Dover High, the school released a statement on its social media pages saying, “Tickets purchased online through UD EVENTS will not be valid at the door at DHS. Automatic refunds are being generated according to their event website. Tickets purchased AT DHS yesterday will be honored at the door with a $4 refund, look for the ticket holders entrance.”

Delaware is just the latest state to adjust its sports schedule due to the coronavirus,

Just nextdoor, in Maryland, the state athletic association announced Wednesday the championship rounds of its state basketball tournament will be played without fans or media. Local colleges like the University of Delaware and Salisbury University also announced on Wednesday all spring sports will currently be closed to fans.

A number of NCAA conference basketball tournaments like the Big Ten, Pac-12, Atlantic Coast, American Athletic, Mid-American and Big West conferences are playing with no fans this week. The NCAA also announced Wednesday the NCAA Tournament itself will not be open to spectators, just teams and essential personnel.

On the court tonight, Dover will try to get past a St. Andrews squad that has become the Cinderella story of the tournament.

The Cardinals have already ousted No. 7 Smyrna and No. 2 William Penn among its three tourney wins.

One of St. Andrews’ top players is Kent County native Adrian Watts.

The Senators know they have to tune out any talk about a possible rematch with Sanford in the state finals.

“We have to focus on St. Andrews,” said Dover coach Stephen Wilson. “St. Andrews is a very good team. Being the 18th seed doesn’t matter.”

“We’ve got to get back to that championship,” said senior guard Wanya Wise, an AAU teammate of Wise. “But it’s a one game at a time, though.”

Dover is 5-1 in the state tournament over the last two seasons with a 46-3 record overall.

The Cape Henlopen girls meanwhile are attempting to be the first downstate school to make the championship game since the Vikings accomplished the feat in the 2011 tournament.

The Vikings have cruised through the tournament so far with 20-point victories over Wilmington Charter and Tatnall. But Sanford, the defending state champions, will be a huge test for Cape Henlopen.

Cape will feel prepared though thanks to a schedule this year which featured former state champion and current top seed Conrad, who the Vikings defeated, plus games against out of state schools Archbishop John Carroll (Pa.), American Heritage (Fla.) and St. Mary’s (N.Y.).

The Vikings have spoken all season about reaching the final four and then to see what happens when they get there. They have that shot tonight, even better for them, it will be at home after thinking they played in the Cape gym for the final time in Monday’s quarterfinal.

“My favorite memory is creating this team,” said Cape senior guard Dania Cannon. “It’s not like we recruited or anything like that. We just happened to all come at the same time. It’s just the right time and the right moment.”