Greely boys’ basketball coach Travis Seaver got limited time with his team before Cumberland County received a yellow designation. File photos

This January, for the first time in memory, gymnasiums are quiet as the high school basketball season has yet to begin.

And it’s possible we’ll have to wait awhile longer until Maine’s favorite winter distraction returns.

But that doesn’t mean that local coaches aren’t holding out hope that they can salvage something from the 2020-21 season.

“We’re just playing the waiting game,” said Travis Seaver, coach of the Greely boys’ squad. “We’ll take whatever we can put together and play as much as we can.”

The winter sports season began back on Dec. 7 with skills and drills and by all accounts, it went well for the short time it lasted.

“We were together almost two weeks and the kids were upbeat,” said longtime Portland boys’ coach Joe Russo. “We were doing drills with no defense to make it somewhat enjoyable.”

“The girls were loving skills and drills,” said Cheverus girls’ coach Billy Goodman. “They were working hard. We were doing everything safe. I’d argue the kids were safer at Cheverus than anywhere.”

Cheverus’ girls’ basketball team hosted a tournament game last winter. The Stags are hoping to see action soon.

On Dec. 18, Cumberland County received a “yellow” designation from the Maine Department of Education in its color-coded system that determines the risk of community spread of the COVID-19 virus. Schools within yellow counties are unable to hold any athletic activities, with coaches limited to communicating with their players virtually, according to guidelines established by the Maine Principals’ Association and state agencies.

That yellow designation remained on Dec. 31 and will be updated again Friday, but with case numbers averaging over 540 last week (782 on Friday and 617 on Saturday alone) and with a large number of those in Cumberland County, it’s probable we’ll stay yellow even longer.

The DOE’s color-coded system, designed in July, has been used to represent what the agency determines to be the risk of community spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Androscoggin, Oxford and York counties also have the yellow designation.

As a result, teams have to meet over the computer instead of in person.

“We meet virtually three times a week,” said Scarborough girls’ coach Mike Giordano. “I’ve been including guest speakers to keep it interesting.”

“We’re staying in touch and hopefully the guys are keeping up their fitness,” Seaver said.

Currently, the regular season is scheduled to conclude Feb. 27, followed by a two-week window in March to allow for the potential of holding modified, region-based playoffs. There will be no traditional state-wide tournament with games at the Portland Exposition Building and Cross Insurance Center.

The MPA has also made it clear that the pandemic leaves all dates subject to change.

If/when the season begins, coaches have different goals for what they hope to accomplish.

Kayla Conley is one of two returning seniors for Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team. The Red Storm hopes to see some action before the winter season ends.

For Giordano, it’s making sure his two seniors, Kayla Conley and Sylvia Foley, make the most of their final campaign.

“We’ll just try to improve since we’re not playing for (a postseason),” Giordano said. “I want to take care of my two seniors. Kayla iis our leader and Sylvia has been very integral to what we do. I hope we can still salvage something. That would be important.”

Lynne Hasson, who coached the South Portland girls to the Class AA state final a year ago, is hoping to get at least one game against the Portland Bulldogs this season, as the Bulldogs have a new coach named Abby Hasson, who happens to be Lynne Hasson’s daughter.

“I’m keeping the faith that we will get back on the court and get to play some games and I hope we get to play Portland,” Lynne Hasson said.

Everyone else is just hoping to return to practice, develop skills, play some games and create some positive memories while laying the foundation for what everyone hopes is a much more normal 2021-22 campaign.

“I just want to have a lot of games and maybe a ‘Portland Cup,'” Goodman said.

“We’ll push it out as far as we can,” Russo said. “I hope we can do something. Maybe a ‘City Cup,’ like they had in soccer.”

“The kids need an outlet like we all do,” added Seaver. “Basketball is what they look forward to. It’s so hard for the kids, especially the seniors. It was great to be in the gym and hopefully we can get back there.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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