Basketball tournament expansion facing approval vote Feb. 6

mhsaa logo, no bkgdBy Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

BELDEN – The use of two venues is a real possibility if the Mississippi High School Activities Association legislative branch votes next month to expand its basketball state tournament field.

If the proposal passes Feb. 6, the boys and girls tournament for 2014-15 would go from 36 games with four teams in each classification to 84 games with eight teams in classes 1A through 4A and six teams in 5A and 6A.

“That’s 84 games in 12 days,” MHSAA associate director Rickey Neaves said at Monday’s District 1 winter meeting at the ICC-Belden Center. “It would be totally unfair to ask student athletes to show up ready to play in a state championship at 9 in the morning.

“Somebody will have to do that.”

Neaves, who said he expects the tournament field-expansion proposal to pass, says, “Look for (the state tournament) to be played at two sites.”

Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum, “the Big House,” would remain one of the sites. The other site has not been determined.

“The process right now is to get it changed, and then we can work out the details,” Neaves said.

Calhoun City’s Darren Coffey was one of the District 1 coaches who wanted to see the field expanded, even though he knows his Class 2A Wildcats would likely play at another venue other than the Big House.

Possible options as a second venue are Tupelo, which was slated to host the 1A and 2A tournaments in a previous failed proposal, along with arenas at Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.

“As long as we get more kids involved, I don’t care if we have to go to the Coast to play,” Coffey said, then smiled.

Cross country

District 1 has proposed that the distance for girls cross country competition be increased from 4K to 5K (3.1 miles).

“This would be the same distance as the boys and bring Mississippi in line with most of the United States,” TCPS coach Lynn Holland said.

Holland noted it’s difficult for college coaches, who go by 5K times when recruiting, to work out an accurate formula for converting a 4K clocking.

Golf

Bruce coach Allan Clarke has proposed a change in golf that would allow the two lowest individual scores – from a non-qualifying team – to participate in the state tournament. The golfers would have to shoot a qualifying score.

gene.phelps@journalinc.com