The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 11, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Basketball tourney games at home?

By DON McCORMACK - donmac@suite224.net
Sports Editor

— It hasn’t happened yet, but don’t be surprised if it does soon.

“It” will be the way high school boys and girls basketball sectional tournaments are conducted.

At the respective draws for the sectional-district tournaments back on Feb. 3 (girls) and Feb. 10 (boys), each tournament director mentioned the possibility of a change for the sectional portion of the tournaments and took a show-of-hands poll to gauge interest among the respective head coaches.

The change would be for all sectional games to be held at the home gym of the higher-seeded team, which would include both sectional semifinal and sectional championship games.

Then, the tournament would shift to a neutral site for the district semifinals and district championship game.

This setup has already been in use for years in sports such as baseball, softball and boys and girls soccer, who to do so in basketball would only be following in step.

For example, when a No. 1 seed in a tournament doesn’t take a bye, it is usually paired with the lowest-seeded team in the tournament.

Playing that type of contest at a neutral site almost always results in two things — one, a monumental blowout; two, the contest is played in front of so few fans crickets could be heard chirping in the third row of the bleachers.

Playing such a game on the home floor of the higher-seeded team would at least attract fans from that school, not to mention force only one school to travel as opposed to two.

In fact, the same premise would also work for sectional volleyball matches in the fall.

If the Ohio High School Athletic Association does go to this setup, here’s hoping to makes sure schools are put in districts with other schools from the same area.

For example, asking Conneaut to travel to Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin to play a sectional semifinal or sectional championship game would solve nothing, except cause more of a strain on the budget for Conneaut because of the length of the journey — something that always has to be kept in minds during the winter months when the winds are blowing, the snow is flying and the roads are icy.

So expect the change to take place, eventually, perhaps for the 2013-14 season.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.