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Lufkin, Nacogdoches limit attendance for Friday basketball game, citing safety

Friday Hoop Action: Nac, Lufkin split rivalry games
Friday Hoop Action: Nac, Lufkin split rivalry games
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 5:19 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 5:55 PM CST

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - For the second year in a row, the boys’ and girls’ basketball games on Friday between Lufkin and Nacogdoches will have limited attendance. Only parents and families of the players will be allowed, where each player will receive a limited number of tickets and there will be none sold at the gates.

“It’s based on some history between the two communities outside of the schools and outside of the teams that are competing,” said Les Linebarger, head of Nacogdoches ISD Communications. “We went ahead and extended it to this school year. Back in the fall you might remember that the football game had a similar rule in place for attendance.”

In late January of 2020, there was a shooting incident that occurred in front of the middle school. The shooting happened during the time of a Lufkin-Nacogdoches basketball game, and it spurred 2021′s limited attendance policy and now its continuation in 2022. The school districts mutually agreed to the decision, although they understand the interest and entertainment value in the rivalry.

“Year in and year out, the highest attendance for a game at probably either location is the Lufkin and Nacogdoches game for basketball,” said Linebarger.

In addition to the past community violence, Linebarger says the current COVID situation within the Nacogdoches school system was a factor in the decision. Overall safety is the top reason to maintain the limited ticket sales procedure for the basketball game with Lufkin.

“Nacogdoches ISD is coming out of a closure related to COVID and all school districts in East Texas right now are experiencing high absence rates in both students and staff,” said Linebarger. “So all of that added together, we just thought it was best to keep this policy in place for this academic year.”

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