By Peter D'Oench

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) – It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for Miami Sunset Senior High School’s basketball team.

Sunset experienced the absolute thrill of victory when it defeated LaSalle High School 59-57 in overtime on February 12th, securing their 2nd district title in school history. They finished with a 14-7 record and had one of their best teams ever.

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The team was going to host the Edison Senior High School Red Raiders in the Class 4A regional quarterfinal last week, but the game was canceled because of COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing after some LaSalle players tested positive.

“We were told two of the players for LaSalle tested positive for the coronavirus. We were told that eliminated us from the regional because that game could not be postponed,” said Sunset High player Vinny Suarez. “I was genuinely pretty sad the first couple of days. It is hard because we were doing so well. Now we don’t even get the chance to play.”

“I feel devastated. The team worked so hard all year and even through the summer before the start of the school year. We worked every single day. We were just shunned of the opportunity to play,” said Sunset’s Isiah Murga. “They sent me a text message that because of COVID they were cancelling our game. It really changed the whole mood of the season. We had won the District championship and were headed to the regionals.”

Murga’s father, like other parents, are upset and angry with the Miami-Dade County School Board decision.

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“It is very heartbreaking to see the season over because of COVID and contact tracing. Personally I feel the winner in this bigger picture is COVID. I am a little disappointed that the School Board didn’t have a contingency plan for when this happened to possibly delay games to allow teams to quarantine and not be eliminated based on contact tracing or positive cases,” said Joey Murga.

Miami-Dade County Schools Spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego released a statement on Friday Feb. 19, which read, “Miami-Dade Public Schools continues to follow all CDC guidelines related to the quarantining of individuals. The District is requesting approval from the Florida High School Athletic Association for the delay of upcoming games affecting teams that have been quarantined. That will allow our student athletes to participate in this tournament, while adhering to existing safety and health protocols.”

But all that changed Monday afternoon when it was announced the game between Sunset and Miami Edison would be played this week.

“I’m happy. We work so hard all year, and now we’re going to be able to get our chance, like we wanted to,” said Isiah Murga. “So all the boys are happy as well. So we’re just ready to come in Wednesday and just play our basketball. I just want to thank mainly all the parents for coming out and just showing support just making sure that we get an extra chance, like another chance at this, because we all deserve it.”

The Coral Gables Senior High School basketball team also faced a similar situation.

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The Cavaliers defeated Columbus High in the Class 7A District 15 championship on Feb. 12.  In the days after, a Columbus coach and several players tested positive for COVID, according to Gables assistant coach Marcos Molina.  However, the Gables team was forced to forfeit their game against Palmetto just hours before it was scheduled to start on Feb. 20, while Columbus was allowed to play against Ferguson and moved on in the playoffs.

Peter D'Oench