Las Cruces boys advance to state championship game as NMMA hosts games in empty arena due to coronavirus threats

High School Sports

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (KTSM) – Playing in an empty DreamStyle Arena mandated by New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham in effort to limit the spread of coronavirus , the Las Cruces boys basketball defeated Volcano Vista 47-31 on Thursday night to advance to Saturday’s Class 5A State Championship Game against Capital.

The New Mexico high school state tournament is quite literally one of the only sporting events still being held after a slew of cancellations and postponements on Thursday due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Fans and media are not allowed in the building; each school is allotted 20 seats and only 100 people total are allowed in the arena at a given time to try to limit the spread of the virus. W

“The first two minutes were weird, but after that it turns into basketball,” Las Cruces head coach William Benjamin said. “I thought it was good because you have to generate your own excitement and energy and the kids were actually listening to you. They could hear everything you were saying.”

The state tournament is still being played despite the state of New Mexico cancelling all classes until April 6 as a precaution. All high school athletics are also suspended across the state.

The NMAA is expected to meet on Friday afternoon to assess how things are going, but as of now, the Bulldawgs will play for the state championship at 8 p.m. on Saturday in the same setup as they played the semifinals.

In El Paso, El Paso ISD, Socorro ISD and Ysleta ISD limited travel outside of the city for all of its school’s teams. As of Thursday night, games were still being held between El Paso teams in the city.

Multiple high school teams were told to return home after they hit the road to play in out-of-town tournaments on Thursday, including the Montwood and Coronado baseball teams, who made a U-turn on the way to Lubbock for a tournament.

The Montwood softball team returned home to El Paso late Thursday night from a tournament in Los Angeles after spending much of the day trying to get plane tickets home.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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