District 2 is inching closer to setting guidelines and dates for postseason tournaments after it received clarity on practice requirements for high school sports ahead of a tentative return to play Jan. 4.

However, nothing is finalized.

A meeting is scheduled for next week with representatives from the Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association to establish a minimum number of competitions needed to qualify for the postseason, District 2 Committee chairman Frank Majikes announced during a teleconference Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Athletic directors from the Wyoming Valley Conference are also expected to meet. Hazleton Area athletic director Fred Barletta said the WVC will be recommending that teams complete 33 percent of the maximum number of contests for team sports. The maximum number of contests for basketball and wrestling is 22, making the minimum number eight. There is no minimum needed for swimming because individuals qualify for district championship events.

LIAA superintendents decided earlier that teams could play contests Jan. 21. They arrived at that date to allow all schools enough time to complete the state mandatory 15 practices before a contest. That requirement changed Tuesday when the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association reduced the number of practices to 10 and created a tiered system for teams that already started practicing with a minimum of four practices following Jan. 4.

The reduction in the number of practices allows for a play date as early as Jan. 8.

LIAA president Ron Collins said he will take the new information to the superintendents. Teams in the LIAA could not start official practice until Dec. 4. Those that opened on time completed a maximum of eight practices need only four practices upon return Jan. 4.

Should the LIAA stay with its directive to start Jan. 21 with league games and not allow nonleague games before that date, teams that have started practicing would have to go an additional 13 days without a contest.

The proposed LIAA basketball league schedule includes 13 games for teams from Division I and Division II, and 14 games for teams from Division III and Division IV.

The WVC league schedule is on track to tentatively start Jan. 14-15 with the goal of playing 12 league games, Barletta said.

Both leagues gained some time to complete their schedules when the PIAA pushed the district deadline to March 13. The state tournament is scheduled to start March 16-17 and will conclude March 27. Teams that do not qualify or are eliminated from the postseason are able to schedule games but cannot exceed 22 total games up to March 27 if they choose.

District 2 wrestling chairman Jay Starnes also indicated that venues may be needed to host championship events as COVID-19 mitigation limits for indoor events has reduced the number of athletes competing in each tournament.

District 2 also released a financial report where it endured a loss of more than $10,000 during the fall sports season due to lost games, limited attendance created by the coronavirus pandemic. The district also paid officials, but once postseason games were changed to home sites that should have been the responsibility of the host school.

Bill Schoen and Majikes are heading an effort to draw in advertisers for the district website, piaad2.org, which provides schedules, season results, tournament schedules, brackets and past history and is visited often as a source of information throughout the scholastic season.

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