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Canton girls looking forward to competition after two-week layoff

The Canton High girls basketball team has been idle since Dec. 29 and the Warriors are looking forward to resuming their season.

The squeaking of sneakers on the gymnasium floor indicated that basketball practice was underway.

The Canton High girls basketball team was at work on a chilly, dark Thursday evening but there was no basketballs bouncing off the floor at this point of practice. It was just running. And more running.

Between sprints, players would ask head coach Brian Medeiros when they could pick up those basketballs lying quietly on the floor.

Medeiros wanted a few more laps and sprints from his players to work more on conditioning. He knows what is coming for his team – a lot of games (15) in a short amount of time (30 days).

For the Warriors and teams across the state, COVID-19 has been disruptive. Canton has not played a game in more than two weeks, primarily because they don’t have enough players to field a team. And when the Warriors put a team on the floor, there were missing players due to non-COVID illness and COVID-related quarantines due to contact tracing.

Canton (1-4) last played on Thursday, Dec. 30, in a one-point loss to Farmington. Friday night’s game at Granby was postponed but Medeiros is hopeful that the team can get back into action Tuesday against East Windsor at home.

This latest break in the action was due to two players getting COVID-19 and several other players in quarantine protocols due to exposure to COVID-19.

“It’s been a struggle,” Medeiros said. “I give the kids a lot of credit. They have a good attitude, and they are working hard. But there were days that we were doing the same things over and over again.”

The challenge was that Medeiros would never know how many kids would be eligible to practice on a given day. Some days it was five, six or seven players available to practice. On Thursday, it was the first time he had more than six players on the floor since after the New Year.

“It is an opportunity to work on individual skills and those portions of the game,” he said. “A lot of programs are dealing with this (COVID-related absences).” Players and coaches are required to be masked in practice and games, according to CIAC rules.

It is hard to build a team when players can’t attend practices or games. Including the varsity and junior varsity teams, there are 13 players in the Canton program. Medeiros said the minimum number of players to field a team is now seven.

Medeiros is optimistic that the Warriors will be back on the floor soon and playing basketball. And perhaps, he will get to see the team he envisioned back in December when the season began back on the floor together.

“We hope to get everyone back by the end of (next) week,” he said. “Let’s get through January, be healthy by February 1 and see if we can make a run for it.”

Canton has four games on the schedule for next week beginning with East Windsor on Tuesday, Sheehan (home) on Wednesday, Coventry (home) on Friday and Granby (away) on Saturday.

“The kids are itching to play basketball,” he said. “They’re excited for Tuesday. They know it’s going to be a lot of games without a lot of practice.”

Canton’s final regular season game is set for Feb. 15. The North Central Connecticut Conference (NCCC) plans to hold a post-season tournament and the CIAC also plays to host their state championship tournaments beginning Feb. 25.

The 2020 state tournaments were cut short by the arrival of the pandemic in 2020 and the CIAC didn’t hold a tournament in 2021.

Teams need to play a minimum of 12 games and win at least 30 percent of the games they play to qualify for this year’s tournament, according to the CIAC girls basketball packet.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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