By Dave Dickson
As tournament fever spikes for high-school basketball fans throughout Washington, the regrettable regional format that has replaced the classic 16-team state tournament leaves many basketball players and fans wanting.
Instead of chanting “ON TO STATE!” and enjoying four days of basketball, classic 16-team tournament, regionals cuts short the seasons of 96 boys and girls basketball teams across the state. For a fourth year these 96 teams, about 1,152 players, along with their respective families, fans, cheerleaders, dance/drill teams and bands are denied the state experience. These teams, who have played by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) slogan “Just Play Fair,” would be happy to just play.
The argument that regionals are somehow a “state” experience rings hollow. A single-elimination evening game in a local high-school gym pales in comparison to the promise and excitement of the Big Tournament in Spokane, Yakima or Tacoma.
The WIAA argues the regional format is cost and time effective. With half the teams participating, it is true there are lower overhead costs. Yet these savings come at a very high price: lost memories, lost dreams and lost learning opportunities for countless young people throughout our state.
As a business, the WIAA has succeeded in growing revenues, but its grade for maximizing educational opportunities is low. The WIAA’s moniker for the eight-team state tournament is The Hardwood Classic. The new format is not a classic in any traditional or historic sense, but it is certainly a classic example of placing profits before people.
A more appropriate title would be State Lite: half the tournament, twice the heartache.
The Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association (WIBCA) would like to send their sympathies to the following 96 basketball teams that had their seasons cut short of state by the regrettable regional format that the WIAA has imposed upon the basketball community of this state:
Boys: Moses Lake, Stadium, Arlington, Bellarmine Prep, Battle Ground, Curtis, South Kitsap, Bothell, Timberline, Mercer Island, Kennedy Catholic, Shorecrest, Kennewick, Lincoln, Foss, Mountlake Terrace Fife, Bremerton, Wapato, Foster, Sumner, River Ridge, Grandview, Sehome, University Prep, Woodland, Hoquiam, Naches Valley, Kalama, LaSalle, Riverside, Vashon Island, Tri-Cities Prep, Kittitas, LaConner, Willapa Valley, Lake Roosevelt, North Beach, Tacoma Baptist, Auburn Adventist, Yakama Valley, Sunnyside Christian, Wilbur-Creston, Entiat, Odessa-Harrington, Wishkah Valley, Oakville, Soap Lake.
Girls: Puyallup, Kentridge, Davis, Bellarmine Prep, Edmonds-Woodway, Newport, Todd Beamer, Chiawana, Liberty, Prairie, Mountlake Terrace, Kennedy Catholic, Auburn-Mountainview, Glacier Peak, Ferndale, Kamiakin, Renton, Sumner, West Valley, Burlington-Edison, Colville, Olympic, Black Hills, Bellingham, LaSalle, Brewster, Cascade Christian, University Prep, Woodland, Freeman, Montesano, Eatonville, Crosspoint Academy, Wahkiakum, Lind/Ritzville/Sprague, White Swan, Willapa Valley, Napavine, Orcas Island, Oroville, Sunnyside Christian, Muckleshoot Tribal, Yakama Tribal, Moses Lake Christian, Wellpinit, Waterville, Mary M. Knight, Pateros.
Dave Dickson has coached high-school basketball for 30 years, including 20 as a head coach, and now is boys head coach Squalicum High School in Bellingham. Dickson, a member of the WIBCA), has many great memories of his 14 state tournament experiences as a player and head coach and wishes the same for thousands of players who are denied this by the current regional format.
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