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The Janesville Parker and Janesville Craig boys basketball teams have played during the early stages of the 2020-21 season, thanks to flexible scheduling and the work of the district’s Chris Nicholson and individual coaches.

Scheduling events for the five high school winter sports is not an easy job.

As the Janesville school district’s secretary to the athletic director, Chris Nicholson is in charge of lining up officials, transportation to and from events and fixing any scheduling quirks that come up for not only Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker, but the city’s three middle schools, as well.

Now try doing all that during a worldwide pandemic.

That’s the dilemma Nicholson currently faces on a daily basis.

“It’s frustrating, not because I don’t have a great support staff to work with in Clayton (Kreger) and Ben (McCormick) because they’ve been great, but because of the virus itself,” Nicholson said. “It’s like a revolving door. It can change things day by day or even hour by hour. One phone call can change everything.

“Last Friday, I got a call that Williams Bay’s boys basketball program was shut down due to COVID, and they were scheduled to play Parker that night. Fortunately, (Parker head coach Matt Bredesen) was able to make a few calls, and we got Milwaukee Lutheran to come play on short notice. And that’s how it’s going to be for awhile I’m afraid.”

Nicholson said one of the biggest challenges through all this is finding not only available officials, but also refs that are varsity-ready and certified on a last-minute basis. He said Janesville basketball coaches and players can expect to see the same officiating crew, or at least one or two members of a crew, on numerous occasions.

“We’ve got one local ref, who does a great job, so it’s not that big of a deal, that will be doing back-to-back Craig (varsity girls and boys) games on the same day,” Nicholson said.

“But that’s kind of where we’re at. With some games being rescheduled three or four times, a lot of officials have already picked up other games and are not available on the new date.

“But like I said, Ben and Clayton have been great through all of this. I know both of those two are working just as hard on their end to keep things running as smoothly as possible and to make sure kids are getting every opportunity to play.”

While Nicholson calls scheduling during a pandemic a frustrating but rewarding experience, Edgerton High athletic director Jon Dupuis said his winter programs have avoided any major scheduling quirks or setbacks.

“I think the biggest key for us as a district is that we started on time,” Dupuis said. “And with both our basketball teams having good success (boys and girls teams are a combined 15-1), the kids are following all protocols and guidelines set up by our district because they don’t want to see it end because of something they could control.

“The virus itself, we know we can’t control that and that things can change in an instant, but there are things that our coaches and players can control, and they’re doing everything they can to make that happen. All we’re trying to do is set up and create an environment that the kids will always remember.”

Dupuis said having a COVID-19 protocol list of do’s and don’t’s has helped. Dupuis sends out a gameday sheet a week in advance to all upcoming home opponents outlining what is expected once teams get off the bus and enter the school. Currently, no fans or media are allowed at any Rock Valley competitions.

The coronavirus will continue to wreak havoc undoubtedly on the high school winter sports schedule, but the majority of area kids continue to play and are making the most of it.

Game of the Week

Monroe (0-0) at Janesville Parker (6-2), boys, nonconference, 12:30 p.m., Monday, Parker High School—The highly-touted Cheesemakers make their season-debut against the hottest team in the area.

Monroe features one of the top players in the state in Cade Meyer. The 6-foot-8 senior and UW-Green Bay recruit averaged 18.7 points and 8.5 rebounds a game last season. The Cheesemakers also feature senior point guard Carson Leuzinger, a first-team all-Badger South selection a year ago.

Parker comes in riding a five-game winning streak and has already exceeded last season’s win total. Seniors Robert DeLong and Brenden Weis are averaging nearly 36 points a game combined, while junior center Jacob Naber has been a big boost off the bench, chipping in 12.1 points a game.

Best guess: Monroe 72, Parker 67

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