The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team entered a mandatory seven-day quarantine after a positive COVID-19 test result within the team Monday.
It is the third time since the season was scheduled to begin Nov. 21 that the Skyhawks have had to enter a quarantine. The first time came the week of the season opener against South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. The second came Jan. 3 as FLC was slated to make up that game against the Hardrockers, but a close-contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus led the Skyhawks into another quarantine and led to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference issuing a forfeit loss to FLC, the only forfeit issued to a men’s or women’s basketball team in the conference all season.
FLC beat Adams State in triple overtime and CSU-Pueblo in the final seconds at home Friday and Saturday. The Skyhawks were cleared to play those games after rounds of COVID-19 testing last week. But a new positive case Monday meant the Skyhawks had to cancel their final three games of the regular season.
“It was an amazing weekend for our team to have that triple overtime and our senior night and being able to have their families able to attend,” FLC head coach Orlando Griego said. “It’s a weekend everyone can remember. Our girls were sticking through it, and those wins were giving us momentum going forward. I just feel really bad for our team that the season is ending this way now. It’s devastating. Our team knew what was at stake this week.”
While some teams have attempted to make up canceled or postponed games, the RMAC has said all regular-season games must be completed by Feb. 27 ahead of the eight-team RMAC tournament, which will be played March 2-6. The Skyhawks will not be cleared from quarantine until Feb. 28.
“We are heartbroken for our student-athletes and coaching staff to have their 2020-21 regular season end under these circumstances,” FLC Director of Athletics Brandon Leimbach said in a news release. “Nobody ever wants to see a season get cut short. But we cannot control the COVID-19 virus and we must be consistent when applying the health and safety protocols that have been mandated by the RMAC and our local health officials.”
FLC (6-8 RMAC) does not believe the new positive test had any correlation to the Skyhawks hosting senior day games Saturday against CSU-Pueblo in which families of seniors were permitted in the game while sitting socially distanced and high away from the court inside Whalen Gymnasium.
“We can’t really pinpoint this one,” Griego said. “We don’t know what happened. It’s one of those uncertainties of where it got contracted. It’s very unfortunate and really bad timing.”
The Skyhawks sit ninth in the conference standings and needed a strong week of play to try to get into the conference tournament. A makeup home game was scheduled for Tuesday against Metropolitan State University-Denver as well as road games Friday and Saturday against Westminster College in Salt Lake City and Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, respectively.
Though it was a tough week of games against teams all in the top seven in the conference, Griego was optimistic his team could continue its roll after two big home wins to try to sneak in the conference tournament.
Now idle, the Skyhawks can only sit back and hope for a mathematical leap in the RPI standings to try to sneak in eighth place to extend their season in the conference tournament. But eighth-place Regis (9-8, 9-7 RMAC) is well ahead of FLC and will play CSU-Pueblo and Adams State this week on the road to finish the regular season.
“We will hold off until the end of the week and let the algorithm work itself out,” Griego said. “If we have the opportunity to compete in the tournament, we will be out of quarantine and the Skyhawks will take the floor. We are hopeful we can slide into the eight-spot depending on what happens over the week, so we will see.”