GREENSBURG — If it feels like déjà vu or the return of a bad dream, there’s a good reason for that.

All sports practices, meetings and games in Decatur County are currently on hold. The announcement came Tuesday per an edict from the county’s health commissioner.

It’s a tough blow to winter sports athletes, particularly for two boys basketball teams who had their seasons canceled in March while they were in the midst of postseason runs.

Greensburg won sectional and was preparing to play in the regional when COVID shut down the season, while South Decatur was in the midst of a special campaign that saw the Cougars reel off a 24-2 record.

“Our goal this year is winning state,” Greensburg senior Lane Sparks said. “Hopefully we can even get a season right now. It’s been disappointing. … It’s a little sad.”

Per Tuesday’s announcement, extra-curricular activities won’t be able to resume until 14 days after the county is no longer in Red status. The status is updated by the state every Wednesday, using numbers collected on Sunday. Decatur was once again in the highest category calculated using seven-day positivity rate and the number of weekly cases per 100,000 residents.

That means the best case scenario for sports returning in Decatur County is several weeks. The county will need to drop to orange status, remain out of Red for at least 14 days, before practices can resume. The IHSAA requires teams to practice six times if over 10 days are missed, which will only further delay athletes returning to the court, pool and mat.

Because coaches can’t meet with their players, they’re relying on seniors and team leaders to hold their teammates accountable for staying in shape in the interim.

South Decatur’s girls are 2-2 in Tyler Johnson’s first year at the helm. He met with the team online Tuesday to discuss daily activities and skill development plans, and now it falls onto the players.

“I hope our team can use this time to improve our skills individually,” senior Lana Bell said, “so that when we are able to play together again, we are better than we were before the shut down.”

Kendall Wildey, South’s boys coach, said he feels for the players and students in general. It’s a difficult mental blow, particularly after they put in over 60 workouts dating back to early July when they were cleared to resume.

Following official practices in recent weeks, the excitement was building. Wildey’s roster had taken shape and he handed out jersey numbers, but he had to deliver the bad news Tuesday.

“It was a tough, tough conversation,” Wildey said. “It was difficult. They’re pretty down.”

Stacy Meyer, who coaches Greensburg’s boys basketball team and is the school’s athletic director, said the shutdown affects other winter sports in different ways, such as how swimming and wrestling condition and prepare to compete. He’s concerned about children being stuck at home during e-learning and not having an outlet for extra-curricular activities.

“Everyone is up in the air on whether we should we have sports,” Meyer said. “I don’t have the answer, either. But we’ll get through it.”

Other counties nearby also in Red status include Franklin, Ripley, Dearborn and Brown.

Ripley County just turned red, but winter sports teams are continuing to practice and play. Batesville’s girls basketball team is set to host Seymour Friday night, although Saturday’s game with South Ripley is canceled.

“We’re under tight restrictions,” said Bryan Helvie, who coaches Batesville’s girls and is the school’s athletic director.

Helvie said Wednesday afternoon that he planned on announcing restriction guidelines to the public on Thursday.

Illinois put a hold on all winter sports on Tuesday after its governor {span}announced a higher mitigation level. {/span}

Keeping a positive outlook and only worrying about what you can control are what many Decatur County coaches are preaching. And the players appear to be listening.

“Even though Covid is pushing us back some, I believe that we are a very strong team this year,” South senior Allison Boilanger said, “and we will get back to our grind.”

Teammate and fellow senior Megan Manlief agreed.

“Something might be holding us back,” Manlief said. “But we are not going to stop improving and will continue to work toward our ultimate goal of winning the sectional this year.”

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