Tip Off: Winter sports start Friday

The last time the Abington Boys Basketball team was on the court, it was March 10 and they were celebrating their state semifinals win over Snowden on the TD Garden parquet.

The state championship game scheduled for four days later never happened, as the growing COVID-19 pandemic brought a sudden early end to the season.

Photo courtesy of Abington High School athletics

Almost 10 months later, the region still finds itself in the grip of COVID-19. But the boys basketball team will lace them up again tonight when the high school winter sports season tips off.

The boys team plays at 7 p.m. at Abington High School against Carver. The girls basketball team is playing at Carver at 6:30 p.m. The boys hockey team will drop the first puck Sunday at 7:40 p.m. against Rockland at the Rockland Ice Arena.

As with fall sports, the winter sports are being played with a number of modified rules to help reduce the risk of virus spread.

“The whole experience is going to be unique in several different ways,” Abington Athletic Director Peter Serino said.

Basketball is being played with no jump balls or inbound passes from the end line. There will be a limited number of players allowed to line up for free throws.

Normally cramped hockey benches will be more spread out adding a degree of difficulty to line changes.

Locker rooms are closed; players are mostly getting ready at home. Hockey players will put their skates on sitting in the empty stands.

Just like with fall sports, all players and coaches will wear masks during practices and games.

Oh yea… the indoor games will be played without any fans in attendance, including parents.

Serino says the biggest lesson learned from the fall season was that student athletes adjust easy to the mandatory changes.

“Kids are capable of a lot,” he said. “The fall season I thought really confirmed that adults are more concerned and will make a bigger issue than kids. Kids are willing to play and do whatever is asked of them.”

Abington Community Access & Media plans to broadcast all girls and boys freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity basketball games, including away games when technologically feasible. Hockey games will be recorded and broadcast at a later time. However, fans can watch each hockey game live with a subscription through Livebarn.com

The boys basketball team is returning four starters – Matt Maguire, Derek Nuttall, Tommy Fanara, and Antwonne Graham – and 10 players off last year’s team altogether.

There’s no state tournaments this year, which means no opportunity for the team to repeat as state champion. But Serino, who also serves as the boy’s coach, said his squad has recalibrated its expectations.

“What’s made the team so sucessful the past few seasons, is we have kids who love to have fun and love to play the game of basketball. As long as they’re having fun and love playing the game, I think we’ll be successful.”