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Slam Dunk’s cancellation another loss for beach businesses, traditions

Lewes Mayor Ted Becker says it would have been hard to accommodate the tournament with the current restrictions on businesses.

As a kid and a teenager, current Cape Henlopen High School girls basketball coach Pat Woods said he almost looked more forward to the Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament than Christmas and presents.

Crazy you say.

How about getting the opportunity to see the likes of LeBron James, Nate Robinson, Tyson Chandler, TayShaun Prince, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Williams, and JJ Redick grace the Cape High basketball court as high school stars.

Want presents over future NBA stars now?

“We would go and find the schedule and mark down the games that we must see,” Woods said. “We used to play outside at the school during the day games. There were certain games we would play outside, but then come back in to see for example, DeShawn Stevenson (a 13-year NBA veteran who made the leap straight from high school). We would probably be there from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. My whole family would be there all day.”

Unfortunately, area prep basketball junkies will not get the opportunity to see the next future NBA stars in action Dec. 27-29 at the Cape Henlopen gym. On Monday, tournament chairman Matthew Robinson made the decision to cancel this year’s event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Obviously, this was a difficult decision,” Robinson said. “At the center of our decision was the safety and well-being of our participants and spectators. We have been following the trends overall and specifically within the elite high school basketball environment and we came to the conclusion that the prudent decision was to hold off until 2021.

“I’d like to think that we were in a good position going into this year from a financial perspective,” Williams said. “We have teams calling us who want to be in the event, so we’re never at a short for that. So, we feel confident that we will be back in 2021.”

Lewes Mayor Ted Becker, although disappointed that the tournament will not be held this year, understands the cancellation.

“It is popular and attracts a lot of people to come here, but I think the decision to not hold it was made based on solid evidence and trying to reduce the exposure to COVID,” he said. “It’s like so many things that we normally enjoy here in Lewes and every other municipality, we’ve all had to adapt.”

There’s n way to know what conditions will be in December, he said.

“Our restaurants are still only at 60 percent, our bars are not open … Our hotels are at 60 percent,” Becker said.

If Gov. John Carney is able to rescind some restrictions, Becker said, “We might have been able to accommodate … but given what we know today, the decision that was made was a solid one. We’ll look forward to having them back next year.”

Betsy Reamer, the Lewes Chamber of Commerce executive director, who has been involved in promoting the event and going to press conferences put on by Robinson, was also disappointed.

“I’ve been watching what sporting events were being allowed and weren’t; so, it is very disappointing that they’re not going to have it,” she said. “But I understand the situation with the COVID is why it’s not happening.”

One of the cancellation’s impacts will be on Lewes’ businesses. The tournament comes when there are no summer visitors, but still means hotel rooms are book and Lewes’ restaurants and shops are busy.

“It’s hard to estimate, but it will definitely cut into their bottom line because the week between Christmas and New Year’s is usually not high visitation volume Reamer said. “People are with their family but this was a destination driver.”

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