High schools preparing for winter sports season

  • Frontier’s Donovan Hoffman drives to the hoop to score against Monument Mountain last season at Goodnow Gymnasium in South Deerfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Sports Editor
Published: 1/4/2021 4:44:06 PM

The countdown to the expected start of the high school winter sports season is now under a week, with Recorder area schools expected to begin practices along with the rest of the PVIAC on Jan. 11.

Tentative schedules for competitions between area schools have also been formulated, and basketball games are set to begin Jan. 21.

It will be a winter season unlike any other, with mask-wearing and new sets of rules and regulations required throughout the MIAA. Locally, no fans will be allowed inside gymnasiums for basketball games.

In basketball, the Franklin County bubble will include Greenfield, Turners Falls, Athol, Mahar, Franklin Tech, Pioneer, Mohawk Trail, Frontier and Hopkins Academy. Teams will play each other once for an eight-game schedule (four home, four away), with games set for Tuesday and Thursday nights beginning Jan. 21 and running through Feb. 18. Schools will alternate home sites on the same night, meaning if Frontier is hosting Mahar in girls’ basketball, the boys’ game will take place in Orange on the same night at the same time.

A postseason tournament is slated for the week of Feb. 22.

At Turners Falls High School, athletic director Adam Graves said he anticipates home games at his school being played at 4 p.m. for JV and 5:30 p.m. for varsity. That schedule will align with times for practice days as well.

“That gives us time for custodians to sanitize and clean up afterward, and also to make sure teams are back home well before the (state’s) travel ban,” offered Graves, who said there would also be a sanitization period between JV and varsity games.

Turners Falls will use one side of its gymnasium for varsity benches and the other side for JV. Graves said players will be assigned seating, which will be spaced out.

The defending MIAA Division 3A state champion Greenfield cooperative hockey program, which encompasses the majority of Franklin County high schools, has a tentative 10-game schedule this winter and will play in a bubble along with Southwick, Chicopee High School, Chicopee Comp, South Hadley and Ludlow. All five of Greenfield’s expected home games are set for Saturday nights at Collins-Moylan Arena, with the opener slated for Jan. 23 against Chicopee Comp.

Greenfield’s road games against the same five schools will take place at a variety of venues throughout Western Mass. Southwick plays its home games at Amelia Park Arena in Westfield, while Chicopee High plays at Smead Arena in Springfield. Ludlow’s home rink is the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield, while both South Hadley and Chicopee Comp play out of Fitzpatrick Arena in Holyoke.

Greenfield’s final game is set for Feb. 27 against Ludlow.

Turners Falls has the lone swimming program in Franklin County, and Graves said the Thunder have a five-meet schedule which will be contested virtually without travel to opposing schools. Alpine and Nordic ski schedules for area schools have yet to be released.




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