Changes in MHSAA tourney format still have support

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

Jason McKay won’t throw in the towel.
Baldwyn High School’s boys basketball coach vows to continue his push to allow more players to experience the postseason, despite a vote against expanding next year’s state basketball tournament by the MHSAA’s legislative branch.
“It’s not over,” a disappointed McKay said. “This proposal will be submitted again next year. Too much hard work went into this.”
The highlights of the proposal, which would have gone into effect for the 2012-13 season, included:
* Allowing eight teams, four each from the North and South, to advance to a three-day state tournament in Jackson in classes 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A.
* Moving the 1A and 2A state tournaments to another venue, likely Tupelo.
* Playing the 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A girls and boys tournament separate weeks.
* Seeding the North and South state tourney teams instead of playing the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals at a neutral site.
“Now we’re going to continue to have half the number of kids involved,” McKay said. “I’m having trouble finding negatives with this (proposal).”
The proposed legislation did not get the required two-thirds voted needed from the MHSAA’s legislative council and executive committee.
“We have a great process,” MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said. “Our schools do have a vote and we do what our schools want.”
The MHSAA will continue with its Final Four format for the state tournament through the 2013 season. “We had a great time last year and we’ll have a great time next year,” Hinton said.
MHSAA associate director Rickey Neaves said districts can make modifications to the plan or submit the same proposal again next year.
“We welcome any change … if it’s for the better,” he said.
Neaves said adding more teams and not expanding play to two venues would be impossible.
“I know everybody wants to go to the Big House (Mississippi Coliseum), but we’d have to play eight games a day for 12 days,” he said. “You would have championship games being played at 9 in the morning.”
gene.phelps@journalinc.com