MHSAA tourney changes may benefit Tupelo

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

The Mississippi High School Activities Association’s plan to change its state basketball tournament format – a move that could bring a portion of the event to Tupelo in 2013 – has passed its first hurdle.
The MHSAA’s executive committee voted in favor of the change during its Feb. 2 meeting in Clinton.
If the committee votes in favor of the proposed plan a second time at its April meeting, it would be entered into the handbook for the 2012-13 school year.
“From what I understand, the response from the schools for this has been 99 percent positive,” MHSAA District 1 secretary Larry Williams said. “District 1 schools need to respond to their committee members on how they’d like for them to vote in April.”
This season, four teams – two each from the North and South – qualify for the state tournament. The MHSAA wants to add more teams to its state tournament format in all six classifications, meaning another venue would be needed in addition to Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum.
Tupelo has expressed an interest in hosting the 1A-2A boys and girls state tournament in 2013.
Seth Gaines, the sports development director for the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, attended last week’s MHSAA meeting to talk with board members and staff about playing at the BancorpSouth Arena.
At Monday’s monthly CVB board meeting, he said the MHSAA’s approval of the format change has opened the door for the city to make a bid.
TOURNAMENT TIDBITS
* Williams said the MHSAA would likely rotate which classifications would play in Jackson and at any new venue.
“You’d have the 1A, 2A play at the new venue, then maybe the 3A, 4A the next year,” he said.
* The new proposal would also change the format of the North and South half tournaments, eliminating Thursday, Friday, Saturday play at one site.
Instead the teams would be seeded, with the higher seeds hosting games throughout the week. The alternating higher division, lower division format used now by the MHSAA in other sports would apply when like-seeded teams play.
* The 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A state tournament in Jackson in 2013 would be split – girls first week, the boys the next.
Girls and boys play in 1A, 2A would be played at the same time.
gene.phelps@journalinc.com