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Coronavirus impacts NJCAA, Section 1 basketball tournaments in Rochester

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NJCAA

The COVID-19 has made an impact on at least one sporting event being held in Rochester.

The Division III NJCAA National Tournament in men's basketball is currently being held on the Rochester Community and Technical College campus. Play began on Wednesday and was supposed to run through Saturday. But the NJCAA announced Thursday afternoon that play would wrap up on Friday and spectator viewing would be very limited.

Earlier on Thursday RCTC athletic director Mike Lester said: "As of right now everything is on schedule. Spectators are still in attendance and being allowed in. But obviously it's an evolving situation."

The situation did evolve a short time later. The NJCAA said in an announcement: "The (Division III) men's and women's national championships, currently underway, will cancel all consolation games and will move semifinal and championship games to Friday, March 13. Effective immediately, spectators will be restricted from the remaining contests for both DIII championships in Rockford, Ill., and Rochester."

RCTC is scheduled to play in its quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. Thursday. If the Yellowjackets win they will play at least one game on Friday and possibly two.

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Friday's semifinals games are slated for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The championship game is at 6 p.m.

"Fans will be asked to sit in their respective and labeled areas," Lester said.

HIGH SCHOOL BOYS

The Section 1A and 1AA boys basketball championship games scheduled for Thursday at Mayo Civic Center were still on as of Thursday afternoon, according to Region 1A executive secretary Brad Johnson.

"All systems are go for tonight," Johnson said shortly after noon on Thursday. "We're basically taking it one day at a time, one hour at a time. Things are awful fluid."

Thursday's games set to be played were Blooming Prairie vs. Hayfield at 6 p.m. in Section 1A, and Caledonia vs. Stewartville at 8 p.m. in Section 1AA.

"Every time the phone rings I jump a little bit, I have a knot in my stomach," Johnson said. "Or if I hear an emailing coming or a text message coming to my phone. I'm sitting here in my office waiting for the bomb to drop."

The boys championship games in Section 1AAA (Austin vs Albert Lea) and Section 1AAAA (Mayo vs. Lakeville South) are scheduled for 6 and 8 p.m. on Friday. No decision on those games or if fans will be allowed to attend had been made by early Thursday afternoon.

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