D200119 lawrence tournament

Hatton players and fans celebrate a basket during the Lawrence County Tournament final at Lawrence County High School in 2020. [JERONIMO NISA/DECATUR DAILY]

The 2021 Lawrence County tournament is still set to take place at the end of this month. 

That was the message delivered by Lawrence County Superintendent Dr. Jon Bret Smith Tuesday morning. 

“In the time of COVID-19, nothing is official. So, I’m not going to go on record as saying the tournament will for sure happen,” Smith said. “However, as of right now, we still plan to have the tournament as scheduled.” 

This year’s tournament is set to take place at East Lawrence High School. Normally a three-day event, the tournament was originally scheduled for January 21-23. But now, because of COVID-19, plans have changed. 

“We’ve been working on a plan for this tournament for about a month now,” said Smith. “Traditionally we’ve had a three-day tournament, but this year we plan to stretch it from Saturday to Saturday.” 

It was announced Monday that Morgan County would be canceling their annual tournament. While it certainly seems reasonable to cancel, Smith says he sees no reason to cancel in Lawrence County. 

“Those teams in Morgan County are scrambling to find games because they don’t want to miss a whole week,” Smith said. “The way we see it, these teams are going to find games to play anyways. So, we believe we can have the tournament in a safe environment for these kids to play in.” 

In addition to moving the tournament to a full week, other safety guidelines will also be in place. There will be additional time in between games to allow those in attendance to exit and enter, as well as give school officials time to sanitize. 

Attendance will be limited at this year’s tournament per AHSAA guidelines. Student athletes will be granted four tickets each for family and friends. 

For those that will be unable to attend, the hope is that the tournament will be broadcasted on the NFHS network. 

This year’s tournament will be the 91st installment in its history. The tournament will start January 16 and go through the 23rd. A full schedule will be released closer to the tournament.

“Obviously this is going to be much different than we’re used to. Unfortunately, most people won’t be able to buy a ticket and attend all day like in the past,” Smith said. “But we’re committed to playing this tournament, while also making sure all that participate will be in a safe environment.” 

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