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Michigan HS Loses Team to Travel Basketball Defections

Paul Steinbach

Mio High School in northeast Michigan has been forced to shut down its tradition-rich boys' basketball program this season as the bulk of its players decided to play travel basketball instead of waiting for the Michigan High School Athletic Association season to begin.

“It does seem crazy that this is where we’re at, but that’s the reality,” said Paul Ciske, superintendent of Mio-Au Sable Schools. “It’s definitely weird that Mio doesn’t have a team, but I’m sure next year we’ll be back.”

As reported by mlive.com, the MHSAA season had been up in the air since the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shut down high school sports in mid-November as part of its coronavirus safety measures. Non-contact practice was allowed to begin Jan. 16, with Feb. 1 as the target date for the season to begin in earnest.

When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the start date would be no sooner than Feb. 21, a group of Mio parents apparently shifted to Plan B for their kids.

“Some of them were frustrated. They didn’t believe the season was going to happen, so they decided to get their kids in travel ball,” Ciske said. “People want their kids to play. You can’t stop them from doing that.

“They were getting impatient waiting on the health department and the MHSAA and went looking for other things. Now we don’t have a program left.”

When the MDHHS altered its order last week and gave the okay for contact sports to begin Feb. 8 instead of Feb. 21, it was too late for the travel players to reverse course. Playing on a non-school team in-season is a violation of MHSAA policy.

“Some people aren’t happy about it,” Ciske said of the season in limbo. “I know people care about basketball here. But this is not a usual year.”

Mio has delivered 35 district championships since 1948, as well as 10 regional championships and 11 1,000-point scorers since 1977, according to mlive.

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