WIAA wants your input on state basketball format


Big changes might be coming to the way state champions are determined

Camas girls basketball coach Scott Thompson had a bit of a dilemma. 

He said he believes his team could be a top-eight seed next season. That would mean a home-district state playoff game, a chance for the Papermakers to bring a big crowd to, say, Battle Ground.

That would be special.

Scott Thompson, the head coach of Camas girls basketball, said he would love it if all 16 teams started their state tournament games at the Yakima SunDome. That is one of the proposals under consideration as the WIAA looks to change the state tournament format. Photo by Mike Schultz
Scott Thompson, the head coach of Camas girls basketball, said he would love it if all 16 teams started their state tournament games at the Yakima SunDome. That is one of the proposals under consideration as the WIAA looks to change the state tournament format. Photo by Mike Schultz

On the other hand, there’s an option to have the entire 16-team state tournament play the first two rounds in the Yakima Valley SunDome. Road trip. Hotel stay. Team meals. 

In the end, he voted for Yakima.

Voted?

Yes, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has been asking for input from coaches, players, and fans regarding proposed changes to the state basketball tournaments. The survey is open through Wednesday.

“I feel like the experience of playing in these big games in the SunDome or the Tacoma Dome … you can’t replace that with a regional site location,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to give these high school players an amazing experience they want to take with them for the rest of their lives.”

That is why he voted for Option 3, to have all 16 teams from Classes 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B, and 1B, boys and girls, start their tournaments in Yakima.

“If (the WIAA) can afford it, if they can pull it off, you’re going to give way more experiences to these high school athletes,” Thompson said.

The WIAA said on Monday it is not definite that one of three proposals listed below will be the solution. However, these are the three options that were recommended to the WIAA’s executive board from the state basketball format committee. 

Super Regional Option 1

The first two rounds of the state tournaments are single elimination, played at local high schools or colleges, with the best seeds getting to play the closest to home. This would be the equivalent of Union getting a top seed and playing a game at Battle Ground High School. 

Class 4A, 3A, and 2A final four teams would then advance to the Tacoma Dome. The 1A, 2B, and 1B semifinalists would play in the Yakima Valley SunDome or the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. 

Semifinals would be played on a Friday at each site. The winners would play for championships on Saturday. There would be no third-place games. Friday’s losers would receive third-place trophies.

Super Regional Option 2

Single elimination in the first round of the state tournaments, at local sites. The winners advance to Yakima for another single-elimination round, played over three days, with two classifications on each day. 

Those winners would then go to the final four the next week, in Tacoma for the big schools, and Yakima/Spokane for the small schools.

Rounds 1 and 2 in Yakima Option

 As it says in the name, everybody goes to Yakima for the first two rounds, with the guarantee of two games.

Win-Win: Advance to final four

Win-lose: 5th place

Lose-win: 7th place

Lose-lose: No trophy.

The final four big schools would then go to Tacoma Dome. The small schools would go to Spokane.

If the Yakima Option is approved the small schools would start their tournament a week before the big schools.

King’s Way Christian boys basketball coach Daven Harmeling said he is fine with all three options. In fact, he is already pleased with another change to the tournament which was announced earlier this spring.

“I don’t even care which of these three they pick,” Harmeling said. “As long as there is a seeding committee, it’s a huge step in the right direction.”

King’s Way Christian boys basketball coach Daven Harmeling said any of the three proposed changes to the state basketball tournaments will work. He is just thrilled that seeding committees will take the place of RPI to create the brackets. Photo by Mike Schultz
King’s Way Christian boys basketball coach Daven Harmeling said any of the three proposed changes to the state basketball tournaments will work. He is just thrilled that seeding committees will take the place of RPI to create the brackets. Photo by Mike Schultz

He is referring to the end of RPI as the be-all, end-all for state tournament brackets. Beginning the next academic year, seeding committees will be used for all team sports. 

If one of these three proposals is accepted, it will be the end of having to win three games in three days (or even four games in four consecutive days) to win a state championship. There will be a break between the quarterfinals and the semifinals. 

“That feels more like a tournament experience. Most major sports do it. I’d be for any of those formats than what we have now,” Harmeling said.

The current format brings the final 12 teams in each classification to one destination. Eight teams play elimination games on Wednesday. The top four seeds play against those winners on Thursday. Then the semifinals are Friday, with the title game on Saturday.

“I do hate the idea of four games in four days,” Harmeling said.

The plan, the WIAA said, is that if there are any changes, those changes would take effect the next basketball season.

The WIAA also has revenue projections for all three formats, compared to the current format. To check out the proposals in more detail, go to the WIAA’s link on state basketball potential changes: http://wiaa.com/News.aspx?ID=1707&Mon=5&Yr=2020

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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