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LHAC will wait until January to start up

From Mirror reports

The Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic boys and girls, Bishop Carroll Catholic boys and Cambria Heights girls all saw their high school basketball seasons cut short in the PIAA quarterfinals last season due to COVID-19.

Now, all four teams, along with the rest of the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, will have to wait even longer.

According to Bishop Guilfoyle athletic director Joe Landolfi, the LHAC has decided to delay the start of its winter sports regular season until Jan. 8. The PIAA, which is meeting today, has set a start date of Dec. 11 for the winter sports regular season with practices starting this Friday and said at its last meeting it was “cautiously optimistic” about sticking to those dates.

Landolfi said the LHAC will not permit winter sports practices until Dec. 14 and that a full press release is expected later today. He sent the following statement from the league to the Mirror Tuesday.

“In collaboration with the leaders of each school, the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference has decided to postpone the start of the winter season. The health and well-being of our student athletes are the main concerns of the conference,” the statement read. “With the current local health conditions, many schools have been forced to operate virtually. It is the belief of the conference that students need to be back in the classroom before they can take to the athletic fields. Practices for the winter season may begin on December 14. Contests for the LHAC will tentatively begin on January 8. This will allow schools to stay in house for practices during the holiday travel seasons and only begin to play interscholastically upon returning from the Christmas break.”

LHAC executive director Scott Close did not confirm the decision as final Tuesday and made the following statement via email.

“There are some details that still need to be worked out,” Close said. “Once we finalize all of the information, the LHAC will release an official statement (Wednesday) morning.”

The decision will not impact the Bishop Guilfoyle and Bedford football teams, which are both members of the LHAC and still alive in the PIAA semifinals and will play this weekend.

In addition to the LHAC decision, the Mid-Penn Conference also met Tuesday and decided to allow winter sports teams to begin practice as scheduled on Friday but delay the start of regular season competitions one week to Dec. 18. The decision impacts the Altoona boys and girls basketball teams, which participate in the Mid-Penn, but not the wrestling and swimming teams.

Mid-Penn Conference divisional games will begin on Jan. 4 and be capped at 18 games, allowing teams like Altoona to play four non-conference contests.

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