Girls Basketball

Big changes could be coming to IHSAA girls basketball tourney

2014-02-16T21:00:00Z 2014-02-18T00:37:05Z Big changes could be coming to IHSAA girls basketball tourneySteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com
February 16, 2014 9:00 pm  • 

Amy Govert has been through it. The girls basketball coach at Merrillville represents most of the basketball fans in Indiana. She, like many, believe something has to change in regards to the IHSAA state basketball tournaments.

In 2010, Merrillville advanced to the Class 4A state championship game, which was held in Fort Wayne. Teams from Vincennes Rivet played in the Class A game and Austin played in the 2A game. The drive for them was horrible.

So Govert was pleased to hear about a possible coming change on Saturday night after her Pirates beat LaPorte to win the Hobart Sectional.

"I am all for that," Govert said. "It's tradition. Growing up the state finals were in Indianapolis and that's where they should be."

Because of the current format in which the boys basketball tournament begins the week of the girls finals, Merrillville's boys basketball team had their sectional championship game in 2010 bumped to a Monday night because of the girls' success.

"You don't want this conflict," Govert said. "We don't need this overlapping and splitting of fans."

From 1976 to 2002 there was a natural rhythm to the Indiana high school basketball state tournaments. The girls tourney was first and ended in Indianapolis on a Saturday.

The boys basketball sectionals would begin the following Tuesday and carry through to the state capitol.

But in 2002 a change was made by the IHSAA and the two tournaments overlapped, with the girls state finals being played on the same Saturday as the boys sectional championship. It diverted the attention of the fans and the media, and it eventually moved the girls state championship out of Indianapolis, which hasn't been warmly received.

The reception is especially breezy since the boys state finals never moved out of Bankers Life Fieldhouse/Conseco Fieldhouse.

This, though, could all be changed on May 5, when the IHSAA board of directors will vote on a proposal that would give basketball some breathing room.

Submitted by IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox, the girls regular season would start a week earlier, the girls hoops tournament would begin one week earlier and end the Saturday before the boys sectional begins, just like it used to be.

Jason Wille of the IHSAA said that there is no agreement with Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host future girls state finals at this time, but it does open the door for that to happen.

If it passes the changes will not take effect until 2015-16.

Because of a current conflict with the Big Ten women's basketball tournament, which is held in Bankers Life, the girls have played two state finals in Fort Wayne and will play for the third straight year in Terre Haute in a few weeks.

"I'm sure Fort Wayne and Terre Haute are fine cities," West Side girls coach Rod Fisher said on Friday night, "but the state championship should be held in Indianapolis, no place else. I'm old school."

In 2005 when Fisher's Cougars played in the 4A state finals, West Side's boys basketball team had their sectional championship game moved to the following Monday night, just like Merrillville in 2010.

Such schedule gerrymandering will not be necessary if this proposal passes.

"It's a good thing to get the state finals back to Indy," Lake Central coach Marc Urban said on Friday night. "Starting a week earlier shouldn't be an issue. Once you get in a groove it doesn't matter if it's a week earlier or a week later."

Wille said the IHSAA sports calendar would have to change to make this happen. The proposal would shorten the volleyball season from nine weeks to eight weeks.

Volleyball would still be allowed to play 25 matches plus two tourneys in the regular season.

"It would be a boost for our tournament," Fisher said. "This will be great for the game."

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