The high-school state basketball tournaments will be single-elimination in the first round beginning in 2012, the WIAA Executive Board voted today (Monday).
But those first-round games will remain at local sites as opposed to the final-eight sites (such as the Tacoma Dome). Boys would play on Friday and girls on Saturday, then rotate those days on alternating years.
While they technically remain part of the state tournaments (which will continue to have 16 allocations), they will be called regional games. The winners advancing to the final eight, as they did this year. The format for the final eight will remain modified double-elimination, the same as they were this year.
Board members said they believe those changes address the biggest concerns they heard following this year’s state tournaments — primarily first-round expenses for participating schools and the possibility of boys and girls teams from the same school playing at separate sites.
“It solves some of our problems,” said Ed Ploof, Executive Board president. “It doesn’t solve all of them, but it solves a lot of them.
The change means higher-seeded teams will not have two chances to advance to the final eight, as was the case this year. Higher seeds played winner-to-quarterfinals games on Friday this year. The losers of those games then played Saturday against the winners of the Friday loser-out games for the final quarterfinal berths.
Mike Colbrese, WIAA executive director, encouraged the board to further modify the final eight by eliminating the consolation trophy games on Saturday.
“Saturday needs to be a championship day,” he said.
But several board members said they felt that was too big of an additional change to be made at this time.
WIAA staff members met with representatives from the boys and girls coaches associations over the past two weeks. Both groups said they ideally would like to return to the former 16-team format, but “the 16-team model is not financially sustainable for us,” board member Craig Olson said.
I’ll have more details in the story I’ll be writing for Tuesday’s paper (which also will be posted on-line), and I’m trying to get some reaction from the coaches associations as well.