By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Jason McKay’s Baldwyn boys basketball team wasn’t eliminated Friday night in last season’s North Mississippi tournament semifinals. The Bearcats won and advanced to the MHSAA’s Class 2A State Tournament in Jackson.
However, 24 teams – 12 boys and 12 girls – were eliminated on the road to the Mississippi Coliseum, widely known as The Big House. McKay is one hoops coach fighting to see that doesn’t happen in the future.
“You ask every one of those 24 coaches if they had a chance to go to state, but they had to play one game on a dirt court in French Camp, they would do it,” McKay said. “I would.”
McKay wants to see the number of teams who qualify for the state tournament increased from four to eight – four North, four South. That’s two teams more than the previously-used format of six teams – three from each region – advancing.
The MHSAA went to its current Final 4 format in 2010.
McKay spearheaded a proposal – one to increase participation at the state tournament – that reached the MHSAA’s executive committee for vote last spring. However, the measure was voted down.
The coach, who re-introduced his legislation this summer, is confident the measure will pass when the MHSAA votes this fall and this spring.
“Last year we were optimistic it would pass; it failed by one vote,” McKay said. “I really do think it’s going to pass this time.”
Big for tupelo?
If Mckay’s proposal passes, the MHSAA would not be able to host all six classifications of the state tournament in Jackson. A second venue, likely Tupelo, would be needed for at least two of the classes.
Tupelo made an attractive bid to host the 1A and 2A boys and girls state tournaments in 2013. The remainder of the 2013 state tournament – classes 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A – would have been played in Jackson. The tournaments, boys and girls, would have been played on separate weeks.
McKay says there is some opposition to playing the state tournament at another venue other than the Big House.
“I’d rather play in Jackson, but I understand you have to give a little to get a little,” he said.
McKay is optimistic the proposal will pass this time around. If not, he’ll re-introduce it again next summer.
“It’s not over,” he said last spring when it was first voted down.