Since it appears the high school winter sports season is over, let us be the first to congratulate Devils Lake on its state Class A girls basketball title.

Friday, Devils Lake beat Fargo Davies 64-57 in the semifinals of the state tournament. The win avenged the Firebirds’ only loss during their 25-1 season and seemingly set up a championship game against Fargo Shanley the next night.

But anyone who saw the photos published in Saturday’s Herald knows what happened. The girls were told immediately after the game that the remainder of the tournament is suspended.

The photos show the players’ tearful, yet stoic, response.

It’s another sad and startling consequence of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, which once seemed so distant but now is hitting so close to home as Minnesota and the Dakotas announce cases, closures and reactions.

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Did the North Dakota High School Activities Association make the right decision? Yes, albeit a few days later than it should have been.

Anyone who thinks it’s all an overreaction is simply not seeing the coronavirus outbreak for what it really is: A true worldwide pandemic.

Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency. Saturday, he declared an expanded travel ban, disallowing travel from the United Kingdom and Ireland. These are good decisions.

He also said he understands if businesses change their policies or even close during the outbreak.

“I think it’s fine if they do it,” he said. “I think, frankly, it’s good if they do it. … We want to keep people away for a little while, just keep them away. And you know, when it gets better, people are going to be buying things.”

There is some good news. Vice President Mike Pence reminded Americans Saturday that the “risk of serious illness for the average American is still low,” but that it’s important to protect the vulnerable, and especially seniors.

And Dr. Tony Fauci, the nation’s leader on infectious diseases, noted that China is seeing reductions in the disease. That bodes well for the United States, which has not yet seen its peak.

“We will see more cases and we will see more suffering and death …” he said. “The challenge is that we still have the opportunity to influence the course of the curve (of national cases). That’s the reason we’re implementing the things we’re talking about.”

And that’s the rhyme and reason behind all of these hard and drastic decisions. It’s not overreaction or panic; rather, it’s a specific response to flatten the coronavirus curve so the number of U.S. cases will begin to decrease sooner than later.

The NDHSAA should have shut down the tournaments earlier, but it has since corrected that early oversight.

It’s sad for the kids, but necessary. The region’s K-12 schools now should consider a break. (NOTE: After the original publication of this article, Gov. Burgum declared K-12 schools will temporarily close)

And if Devils Lake and Shanley never play the Class A title game, we believe the Firebirds – by way of their 25-1 season and two wins over Shanley during the season – can rightfully call themselves honorary state champs.

If nothing else, their sad end Friday night will be a visual that will always remind us of the 2020 coronavirus outbreak.

As a public service, the Herald has opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.