COVID protocols force Mundelein out of NSC tournament, but Mustangs will play this weekend
It's par for the course in this strange COVID era.
On Tuesday night, minutes before tip-off, the Daily Herald learned that the North Suburban Conference boys basketball tournament semifinal game between Libertyville and Mundelein had been canceled, due to a COVID-19 situation involving Mundelein.
Mundelein, which was to host the game, tried to reschedule the game for Wednesday, but carving out last-minute gym space around all the spring sports that are also now starting up as well, was difficult.
So Mundelein, which was the No. 1 seed in the tournament after winning the regular season conference title with a 7-0 record, forfeited to Libertyville, which gets sent directly to the championship game.
Libertyville will now face Stevenson on Friday night for the title.
Mundelein, meanwhile, has since been given the all-clear and can play as scheduled in the special Chipotle Clash of Champions this weekend that will be hosted by St. Patrick and Notre Dame high schools and feature some of the best teams in the Chicagoland area.
Mundelein got word on Sunday that it had played a team recently in which someone on that team either tested positive for COVID-19 or had symptoms.
Mundelein was put on an immediate pause until contact tracing could be done.
Eventually, the Lake County Health Department determined that there was not a risk level high enough for Mundelein to warrant anything more than that temporary pause, according to Mundelein coach Matt Badgley.
"We would have liked to have played the NSC tournament all the way through," Badgley said. "Of course, there's no guarantee we would have made it to the end, but we would have tried.
"But there was no way we could make a (make up) game (with Libertyville) on Wednesday work. And we are also in this Chipotle tournament coming up and that kind of muddles things up, but we could not (pass up) that opportunity and the rest of the schools in the conference recognized that. So we're doing what we need to do. It's a unique situation in a unique year and I think everyone is very understanding."
The Mustangs take solace in the fact that they have already won the North Suburban Conference championship, even if they can't put the exclamation point on with a conference tournament title as well.
"That (the regular season conference title) is what will be hanging on the walls, that's what people will see when they come back to school 20 years from now," Badgley said. "I think this conference tournament is more just for fun."
Mundelein will next play on Friday against Fenwick at St. Patrick High School in the single-elimination Chipotle tournament.
If the Mustangs win, they could play as many as two games, if they make the championship game, on Saturday at Notre Dame High School.