Pictured: Coach Chris Watson with his Coginchaug players during a Shoreline home game in February.

By Paul Augeri

The girls basketball season at both Coginchaug and Valley Regional is over because of COVID-19, forcing the Shoreline Conference to reconfigure its postseason tournament with 10 teams.

In a letter sent to parents on Tuesday night, Region 13 superintendent Doug Schuch said his district was notified of a positive case of coronavirus that day, and subsequent contact tracing “requires quarantine of a significant number of staff and students.”

Schuch said that due to “specific” staff and students that were required to quarantine, the basketball season was canceled. Coginchaug will be in remote learning through March 25.

At Valley, athletic director Jeff Swan said that the high school is under quarantine for the next 10 days “due to exposure to a positive case in another event.”

Coginchaug and Valley Regional faced each other on Monday in Deep River. There was no indication, at least publicly, that the quarantines are connected to that game. Valley played Hale-Ray the following night, but a source said Hale-Ray – as a contact of a contact in tracing – is not impacted.

Coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt’s Warriors won 7 of 11 games this season, a notable improvement over last season when they finished 7-13.

There is no indication that the boys basketball teams at either school have been affected.

The news was a crushing blow for both programs and their seniors. Coginchaug coach Chris Watson said he and the Blue Devils were “shell shocked” when told their season would not continue.

Valley coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt did not reply to a text message from middlesexcountysports.com

Coginchaug was 7-4 and the No. 5 seed in the Shoreline tournament, which starts Saturday with first-round matchups. Valley improved to 7-4 following its 64-33 over the Blue Devils and had secured the No. 6 seed in the tournament.

“It is unfortunate that we will not be participating,” Swan said. “Our girls and our coaching staff have made this season enjoyable to watch despite playing in a pandemic season. Our administration, our fans and our student athletes are thankful that we had the opportunity to play basketball this year. We look forward to competing next year.”

Updated seeds and pairings for the tournament (all games will be played at the higher seed):

Saturday, First Round

  • No. 10 Westbrook at No. 7 Hale-Ray, 2pm
  • No. 9 Portland at No. 8 Old Saybrook, 6pm

Monday, Quarterfinals

  • Old Saybrook/Portland winner at No. 1 East Hampton, TBD
  • Hale-Ray/Westbrook winner at No. 2 Morgan, 5pm
  • No. 6 Haddam-Killingworth at No. 3 Cromwell, 6pm
  • No. 5 North Branford at No. 4 Old Lyme, 5:30pm

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