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No hoops for NJB this season

Many young basketball players will miss this season’s basketball competition as Scripps Ranch National Junior Basketball was forced to cancel its upcoming season. (courtesy photo)

No hoops for NJB this season

Scripps Ranch’s youngest basketball fans are in for a quiet winter after Scripps Ranch National Junior Basketball was forced to cancel its upcoming season in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

League director John Owens said, with all factors considered, the board had no other choice. For starters, the facilities the league uses for practice and games are both closed.

“Our league relies very, very heavily on indoor gym space,” Owens said. “That’s the only way it can function. And for years we’ve had our games on Sunday at Scripps Ranch High School.”

On top of facility issues, Owens said the state of California banned five-on-five basketball among children in an effort to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In years past, the league has taken in numerous young players for its winter season. The program serves students from third to sixth grades and is entirely volunteer-run.

Even though tryouts for the winter season don’t usually occur until October, Owens said the planning timeline meant a decision had to be made soon. This action was solidified on July 13 when San Diego Unified School District announced it would not reopen in August for physical classes on campuses, meaning the Scripps Ranch High campus would remain closed.

The response from parents to the cancellation has largely been understanding, Owens said, although he said there has been disagreement what the real risk is of allowing kids to play basketball.

“Some people think it’s relatively low-risk when compared to other activities. Other people think it’s dangerous and shouldn’t happen,” Owens said. “We have to go right now with what the governor is telling us and allowing us to do.”

During these next few months of isolation, Owens said he is fearful of the impact the season cancellation will have on kids’ lives. With no basketball season, kids who normally enroll will get less exercise, fewer teamwork opportunities and may have a harder time making new friends.

“We go to games on Sundays and see a close game and see the excitement of the kids on the floor, the coaches and the parents. That was a special thing,” Owens said. “It’s hard to replicate that, esports is not the same. But that’s just the way it is these days.”

The status of the 2021 season remains unknown, but Owens said the league is hoping to return if conditions permit.

To follow any updates pertaining to Scripps Ranch National Junior Basketball, visit scrippsranchnjb.org.

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