For some schools the high school basketball season started Tuesday while others will hit the court today.  There’s also a group of teams who won’t start until later this week or maybe even next week because they are shut down due to COVID-19 concerns.

Welcome to what is sure to be the most challenging six weeks or so in the history of high school basketball at the Jersey Shore.

The season was originally scheduled to begin on December 18 but a while back that was moved to January 26.  As if that wasn’t difficult enough the length of the season and number of games you can play was cut drastically.  Some schools routinely would play around 30 games but in 2021 that number has been cut in half.  NJSIAA guidelines only allow for a 12-game schedule followed by a maximum of three games played during an abbreviated 3-game postseason the week of March 1st.

The Shore Conference is planning on matching teams in “pods” at the end of the season and hopefully we will get the top eight on both the boys and girls side in what they’ll call the Shore Conference Postseason.  For the first time since it started in 1937 there will not be a true Shore Conference Tournament. They played it through World War II but they could not overcome a pandemic that has changed so much.

While that sounds pretty good getting there will not be easy.  Teams are already in quarantine before even playing a game and missing two weeks during the season will deal a blow to anyone hoping to play the maximum of 15.  It’s very likely that not all 47 boys and 47 girls teams will be standing come March so who knows what that brief postseason will even look like.

Of course just like with the fall season the goal remains to play, enjoy the time you have with your teammates and make memories. That won’t be hard because who will ever forget what this past year has been like for high school athletes.

Here’s to cheering for plenty of 3-pointers, slam dunks and smiles over the next six weeks.

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