May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Masked up fans are back in OC gymnasiums enjoying basketball games

Portola students cheer on the Bulldogs Friday night. (Photo Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Basketball fans are back in Orange County gymnasiums, making high school boys and girls basketball games more like they used to be before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

During the spring, attendance was limited at gymnasiums to those on lists. Student fans at a local game were turned away because they weren’t on a list.

This season, it appears that there are no limits on crowd size and Portola students, who traditionally make up one of the best support groups around, turned out in solid numbers Friday for the Pacific Coast League game between the Bulldogs and Northwood. Northwood was also well represented by students at the game.

Similar scenes have been noticed at other gymnasiums in Orange County in the early part of the season. Fans have been encouraged to wear masks.

It’s not quite business as usual since basketball is an indoor sport and subject to COVID guidelines. At Portola, a box of face coverings were at the entry and those who didn’t have masks were asked to put them on. The mask rule was enforced throughout the game with periodic checks by Portola officials.

No food or drinks were allowed in the gymnasium Friday night for the Portola-Northwood game.

But it was still more like the atmosphere for basketball used to be.

“It’s so nice to actually be in a gym with people,” said Portola Coach Brian Smith. “I told the guys ‘you got to embrace it, you got to enjoy it, because you never know when we might have another COVID situation.’ We’ve already been through that so let’s enjoy every crowd we got and enjoy every time we get to be on the floor together.

“Everybody had a mask on but it was still loud with all that going on. We will take it though.”

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com