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Taking it indoors: La Jolla’s high school basketball teams begin play with COVID-19 safety protocols

Bishop's School senior Owen Hill (left) is one of the Knights' basketball team captains this year.
Bishop’s School senior Owen Hill (left) is one of the Knights’ basketball team captains this year. His coach calls him one of the top shooters in San Diego County.
(Courtesy of Dave Siccardi)

As San Diego County high school athletes continue to return to outdoor venues with COVID-19-related precautions, some are hitting the indoors as well.

La Jolla’s basketball teams are launching seasons that are both earlier and shorter than usual. And with that comes more coronavirus testing, practice alterations, sanitation protocols, mask wearing and other safety measures.

“Basketball is kind of the worst for COVID safety,” joked Bishop’s School senior Owen Hill, 18. “It’s indoor and it’s high-contact.”

Bishop’s coach Nick Levine said players must wear masks during all practices and workouts, they are tested once a week, the school moved the weight room outdoors and the benches are rearranged so players sit four feet apart. Players also have to forgo the typical postgame high-fives with the other team and wave instead.

But for players like Hill, it’s all worth it.

“They could make us do a lot more and it would still all be worth it for me,” he said. “The precautions are easy to adhere to, and being a senior, I really wanted to have this last season. It’s a no-brainer.”

Hill played basketball as a young child and then more competitively the past six years. He had surgery almost a year ago for an issue unrelated to sports and spent the better part of the past nine months in physical therapy so he could play this season. He hopes to play basketball in college.

“Working that hard to recover gave the season more weight for me,” he said. That and being one of the few seniors on the boys team after nine graduated last year.

“We’re a really young team, so there is a lot of learning to be done, but we have a lot of guards that play really aggressively and are quick,” Hill said. “We also have some height, which is nice. We have a junior that is 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6 and we have a lot of shooters. We have four guys that can consistently knock down open jump shots and a freshman that is great at ball handling.”

Owen Hill (No. 0), pictured in 2019, is one of only a few seniors on the Bishop's School boys basketball team.
(Courtesy of Dave Siccardi)

Levine said this year’s team “is basically a brand-new group. We have terrific leadership with Hill and Dax Kay as our senior captains this year. I think we have a nice blend of size and skill. Owen is one of the best shooters in the county.”

“Nick Clotfelter is a returning varsity guy and he has really grown and improved his game,” Levine added. “Luke Ball is a transfer from Torrey Pines that we are really excited about and another perimeter shooter that we are going to rely on. One freshman who we think will be in the rotation early on is Armaan Damani as a point guard. Water polo standout Ben Kyrillos should provide energy and toughness to our group.”

At La Jolla High School, girls varsity coach Alex Caceres said his team is “really looking forward to competition and being around teammates. Through at-home training, they developed good footwork, hand-eye coordination … and they are competitive and defensive-minded.”

Other local coaches did not respond to the La Jolla Light’s requests for comment.

April basketball schedules

THE BISHOP’S SCHOOL
Home games at 7607 La Jolla Blvd.

• Girls varsity:

April 1 and 3: against Mount Miguel High School, location TBD, 5 p.m.

April 6: away against Cathedral Catholic High School, 5555 Del Mar Heights Road, 7 p.m.

April 15: home against Mater Dei Catholic High School, 7 p.m.

April 16: away against Mission Hills High School, 1 Mission Hills Court, San Marcos, 7:30 pm.

April 20: away against La Jolla Country Day School, 9490 Genesee Ave., 3 p.m.

April 22: home against El Camino High School, 6 p.m.

April 23: home against Foothills Christian High School, 6 p.m.

• Boys varsity:

April 3: home against Steele Canyon High School, 5:30 p.m.

April 6: home against La Jolla High School, 5:30 p.m.

April 9: home against Morse High School, 5:30 p.m.

April 16: home against Orange Glen High School, 7 p.m.

April 20: away against Francis Parker School, 6501 Linda Vista Road, San Diego, 7 p.m.

April 23: home against Foothills Christian High School, 7 p.m.

April 24: home against Scripps Ranch High School, 5:30 p.m.

April 27: against Santa Fe Christian School, location TBD, 7 p.m.

April 30: away against La Jolla Country Day School, 9490 Genesee Ave., 6 p.m.

LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL
Home games at 9490 Genesee Ave.

• Girls varsity:

April 1 and 3: Bonita Vista Tournament, location, opponent and time TBD

April 7: home against Serra High School, 1 p.m.

April 8: home against Troy High School, 5 p.m.

April 9: home against Mater Dei Catholic High School, 7 p.m.

April 10: Sweet 16 Tournament, at home, opponent and time TBD

April 13: home against Carlsbad High School, 6 p.m.

April 20: home against The Bishop’s School, 3 p.m.

• Boys varsity:

April 1: away against Coronado High School, 650 D Ave., 6:30 p.m.

April 3: home against Foothills High School, noon

April 6: away against La Costa High School, 1 Maverick Way, Carlsbad, 6 p.m.

April 8: away against Mission Bay High School, 2475 Grand Ave., Pacific Beach, 7 p.m.

April 13: home against Army and Navy Academy, 7:30 p.m.

April 16: away against Santa Fe Christian School, 838 Academy Drive, Solana Beach, time TBD

April 20: away against Orange Glen High School, 2200 Glenridge Road, Escondido, 7 p.m.

April 23: away against Torrey Pines High School, 3710 Del Mar Heights Road, 7 p.m.

April 27: home against Francis Parker School, 6 p.m.

April 30: away against Cathedral Catholic High School, 5555 Del Mar Heights Road, 7 p.m.

LA JOLLA HIGH SCHOOL
Home games at 750 Nautilus St.

• Girls varsity:

April 12: home against Scripps Ranch High School, 4:45 p.m.

April 22: home against High Tech High, 6 p.m.

April 27: home against Mission Bay High School, 6:15 p.m.

April 29: home against Crawford High School, 6 p.m.

• Boys varsity:

April 6: away against The Bishop’s School, 7607 La Jolla Blvd., 4 p.m.

April 12: away against Hilltop High School, 555 Claire Ave., Chula Vista, 6:30 p.m.

April 15: away against High Tech High, 2861 Womble Road, Point Loma, 7:30 p.m.

April 22: home against Lincoln High School, 7:30 p.m.

April 27: away against Scripps Ranch High School, 10410 Falcon Way, 6:15 p.m.

April 29: home against University High School, 7:30 p.m. ◆