PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ — UPDATE: The AIA has canceled the games scheduled for Friday and Saturday, after backlash from parents and school leaders. CLICK HERE for our updated story.
Our original story is below.
Many parents and family members are concerned about the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s decision to continue with the 1A and 2A boys and girls basketball state championship games this weekend in Prescott Valley.
Despite calls from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety to avoid traveling state highways in northern Arizona because of winter weather conditions, the AIA says the games will go on.
Prescott also declared a state of emergency Thursday because of the heavy snowfall.
In a statement, the AIA says most teams participating in the tournament are already in the Prescott area and the others are in transit Thursday.
The AIA is advising friends and family members to watch online if they’re concerned about traveling to the area.
The AIA says they held a conference call but found no alternative that could be agreed on to delay or move the games.
In total, 13 schools are responsible for transporting their student athletes to the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley for games that will be held on Friday and Saturday. The AIA says they’ll do their best to move game times if teams are late arriving, but if they’re unable to make it because of weather conditions, their game will be forfeited.
“It was conveyed to the schools on the conference call that the AIA will make every arrangement to accommodate teams that might not arrive in time for their first game. There would be options to move games earlier or later on Friday, and even the availability to play a semifinal on Saturday morning as a last resort. Only if a team could not make it all would it have to forfeit.”
Games will be streamed online, but many people say it’s unfortunate that the AIA couldn’t move the games to the Phoenix area or push them back so family could attend.
"There’s nothing like being there in person and nothing to replace the hug when the game is over. You can’t do that when you watch them online," said one parent.
Another concerned family member says he can’t leave to watch his brother play in the tournament until Friday because of college classes.
“I'm left with the choice to either risk driving down to Prescott on Friday despite the ADOT advising not to travel that road. Or I miss my brother playing in his, possibly last, basketball game of his High School career. Why? Because AIA is too stubborn to reschedule.”
A representative from Thatcher High School in southern Arizona says the team left Thursday morning to try to get to Prescott but has been turned around on several routes. Their first game is against Scottsdale Christian High School, who also had to drive to Prescott for the game.
Bright Benson, the Athletic Director from Baboquivari High School is in Prescott now for the tournament.
“I am up here right now and things are looking pretty grim. I went looking for places to eat and getting access to the parking lots is a huge challenge in and of itself. It's hard to park in parking lots that are covered in about 2 to 3 feet of snow. From the looks of things doesn't look like it's going to get any better. Restaurants are closed due to weather. At this point it does not appear that the city of Prescott has the resources to deal with this winter storm.”
The AIA declined an interview on Friday, but provided the following statement:
"Below is a statement from our Executive Director David Hines in regards to the 1A and 2A basketball tournament in Prescott Valley.
There has been ongoing concern regarding traveling conditions to the Prescott area for the 1A and 2A AIA State Basketball Championships. The decision to keep the schedule as is was a difficult one to make.
The association had a conference call with all schools involved Wednesday morning. Without a consensus or a viable alternative from the call, including a recommendation for postponement, it was decided to keep the tournament as scheduled. With this, teams began making their way toward Prescott. Most northern schools had already made it to the area by Wednesday evening, and the rest arrived Thursday morning. Most of the schools arriving later were coming from the south.
It was conveyed to the schools on the conference call that the AIA will make every arrangement to accommodate teams that might not arrive in time for their first game. There would be options to move games earlier or later on Friday, and even the availability to play a semifinal on Saturday morning as a last resort. Only if a team could not make it all would it have to forfeit.
If fans cannot make it to the arena due to the weather, all games of the tournament will be streamed online at the following link: http://www.azpreps365.com/videos. The association once again encourages everyone driving to the Prescott area to be cautious."'