By SCOTT JACKSON
The basketball, hockey and swimming and diving teams at Quincy’s two high schools will begin their seasons at the end of December with new rules in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The MIAA Board of Directors on Nov. 20 approved the modifications for most winter sports and voted to push back the start of the winter season from Nov. 30 to Dec. 14. Basketball, hockey and swimming and diving will all be allowed to begin their seasons on that date.
Three other winter sports will not be allowed to commence their seasons, however. Indoor track will move to the second fall season, which also includes football and fall cheerleading and will begin in late February. Wrestling and winter cheerleading will be delayed until the spring season, which begins in April.
Kevin Mahoney, the athletic director at Quincy High School, on Monday said schedules for his school’s teams were still being drafted. Games will begin the week of Dec. 28, he said, and the schedules will be similar to those used during the fall season with teams playing 11 or 12 games.
There will be no MIAA tournament at the conclusion of the winter season, Mahoney said. The Patriot League – which both Quincy High School and North Quincy High School belong to – will instead organize its own playoffs, the Patriot Cup, at the end of the season like it did in the fall.
Basketball and hockey players will be required to wear masks at all times, including during the game, under the new guidelines. Swimmers and divers must also wear masks while in the facility but can un-mask as they prepare to enter the pool.
Halftime will be eliminated as part of the new rules for basketball and the length of time between quarters will be extended to two minutes and thirty seconds. The game ball will be changed at the end of each quarter.
Game day basketball rosters will be limited to 15 players and teams can have no more than three coaches on the bench at any time. The use of swing players – those who move between junior varsity and varsity, for example – is discouraged and should only be used to sustain a program.
Basketball players should refrain from picking up one another from the court, unless it is necessary to do so because of injury. Players should also refrain from huddling during the game as well as touching hands during substitutions.
There will be no jump ball at the start of the game or at the start of overtime; a coin toss will be used instead to determination possession. Referees will be asked to emphasize the rule that a defender cannot physically impede an offensive player. An additional point of emphasis will be five-second violations on offense to minimize the amount of time opponents are face-to-face. Only four players will be allowed in the free-throw lane during foul shots and free-throw lanes will be empty except on the final foul shot. Additionally, defenders will be required to maintain six feet of separation from the player inbounding the ball.
Hockey rosters will be limited to 20 players, down from 22. No more than three coaches and one athletic trainer will be allowed in the bench area. Only one player would be allowed in the penalty box at a time; auxiliary boxes would be used if necessary.
On faceoffs, opposing players must line up six feet from each other. Centers will also line up six feet from their opponent and wait until the official calls them in for the puck drop.
Only one player from each team is permitted to take part in scrums along the boards. Officials will be required to stop play if a third player enters the scrum. Officials can also stop play if any scrum anywhere on the ice lasts more than five seconds but are not required to do so.
The guidance for swimming and diving allows only dual meets this year. Virtual meets are allowed as long as the teams compete on either the same day or within one day of each other. Swimmers will race in lanes adjacent to their teammates rather than alternating lanes with their opponents.
The MIAA rules allow spectators at all sports, subject to social distancing guidelines and state capacity limits. All spectators, coaches and officials must wear masks at all times.