WPIAL: Gyms must have capacity of 700 or greater to host basketball playoff games

Monday, February 22, 2021 | 6:43 PM

Some top seeds in the WPIAL basketball playoffs could find themselves playing on their opponent’s home floor this winter.

The WPIAL has decided to award home games to higher-seeded teams in the playoff brackets, but there are criteria the schools must meet before they can host, WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said Monday.

First, the school’s gym must have a capacity of 700 or more. That way, under the state’s current covid-19 restrictions, at least 70 people are allowed inside. That requirement will cause trouble, especially for some small schools.

Scheuneman surveyed schools earlier this month and said some gyms won’t be able to meet that number.

Second, schools must be willing to host opponents that have varying mask policies. In other words, a host school can’t force an opponent to wear masks on the court, if that opponent claims a health exemption. In the regular season, some schools wouldn’t host teams without masks.

If a school can’t meet those criteria, the game will be moved elsewhere, Scheuneman said.

“Our first option will be to go to the other school’s venue,” she said. “If they are also unable to host, then we will look for a neutral site.”

The WPIAL playoff brackets will be revealed at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the TribLive High School Sports Network. The first games are Feb. 27 and March 1. The championships are March 12, 13 and 15.

The WPIAL hasn’t selected championship sites, but Scheuneman said 10 high schools have submitted bids to host the finals.

Traditionally, the WPIAL used neutral sites for all rounds of its basketball playoffs but switched plans this winter in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The WPIAL took a similar approach to playoffs in the fall.

The WPIAL wants gyms with a 700-person capacity because Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has tight limits on gatherings at events. Attendance is capped at 10% for indoor venues with a capacity of 2,000 or less — the size of most high school gyms.

A school must be able to admit at least 70 people to meet demands for players, coaches, officials and other game-day workers. If possible, in places with higher capacities, minimal spectators also will be permitted, Scheuneman said.

Regular-season extended

WPIAL basketball teams have time to schedule a few more regular-season games.

Teams can continue to play regular-season games up until their first playoff date, the WPIAL board decided Monday. Then, once eliminated, a team can continue to play regular-season games until March 27, under a temporary policy adopted this winter by the PIAA.

However, the WPIAL board decided Monday to prohibit teams still active in the postseason from playing regular-season games in between playoff games. Playoff teams can continue to scrimmage as usual.

Teams are limited to 22 regular-season games. Playoff games don’t count toward that limit.

Earlier this winter, the PIAA board gave teams permission to extend their regular seasons and play games until the state championships conclude March 27. The move was to help those that missed games because of covid-related shutdowns.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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