MHSAA mulls tournament expansion

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

Amanda Elzy won the Class 4A state championship in boys basketball last season.
Cedric Brim’s Shannon Red Raiders lost to the Panthers, 52-50, in the North state semifinals and missed qualifying for the state tournament.
Next year, if the Mississippi High School Activities Association expands the state tournament field from four teams to eight teams, a team suffering the fate of Brim’s 2012 Red Raiders would advance as a No. 3 or No. 4 seed.
“It would give more teams and kids the opportunity to go the state tournament,” Brim said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make it last year.”
The MHSAA will vote in April on a proposal to increase the state basketball tournament field from four to eight teams, starting in 2014. The executive and legislative councils of the organization approved the proposed legislation this week.
Both branches must vote “yes” a second time for it to pass.
“We’re going to take a real hard look at it,” MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said. “We will look at a lot more info and detail the second time (in April) to see if it’s a good proposal.
“We continue to look at all our sports and activities, our (playoff) formats and facilities. We want to enhance them all we can.”
One concern the MHSAA has about expanding the tournament field is playing 48 first-round games, 24 semifinal games and 12 championship games over 12 days at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
“This is pretty much playing all day,” Hinton said of a 96-team, 12-day tournament. “You have to look at the availability of facilities or even one facility.”
Another proposal that called for advancing eight teams in each class and playing the Class 1A and 2A state tournaments at different venue, was voted down last year.
Ingomar boys coach Jonathan Ashley believes 96 teams playing over 12 days in Jackson can work.
“Anything that increases the number of teams going is a good thing,” he said. “They say you can’t do it, playing the games straight through, but you can do it.”
Prior to 2009, six teams – three each from the North and South – advanced to the tournament. The third seed qualified by winning the North/South consolation game. The North/South champion received a first-round bye.
gene.phelps@journalin,com

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