I will admit to being new to being the person responsible for in-depth coverage of postseason basketball.
That being said, there has got to be an easier way to determine the region bracket than what I experienced Sunday at The Arena.
The coaches/representatives from each of the 16 participating teams were brought into an area on the upper level of The Arena and seated in nice, neat rows.
After some introductory remarks, the coach/reps of the district champions were called forward to begin the drawing process.
This required each representative to make their way from their seat, usually worming their way through several other people and coming up to where the brackets and jar were located.
The rep would then fumble with the small jar to extract a small die with a number that would determine where on the bracket the team would be placed.
After the four district champions had determined their place, it was time for the district runner-ups. Well, three of the four runner-ups. The fourth got what was left.
Again, one by one, the reps for each district runner-up came forward and fiddled with the bottle.
This is where we got into the KHSAA rule. Teams from the same district can’t meet until the region final, so they are required to be on opposite sides of the bracket.
Kind of takes away from the blindness of the draw.
The state tournament doesn’t have a rule about neighboring regions not meeting until the final. The Eighth Region, which includes Simon Kenton and Walton Verona, is playing the 10th Region, which includes Scott and Campbell County. For those who aren’t familiar with the geography of northern Kentucky, Kenton County and Campbell County are next to each other. Simon Kenton and Scott are in the same school district.
The 12th and 13th Region champions, or the 15th and 16th Region champions may be matched up in the second round of the tournament.
I can understand not wanting to match up district opponents in the opening round, but beyond that, it should be wide open.
In addition, the drawing was delayed because the 51st District championship wasn’t played until Saturday night.
The drawing could have been made on Friday, by which point the eight participating teams had been determined.
Or even sooner.
Put tiles for the four district champions in a hat or other vessel.
Have a neutral party, such as Arena Director Kristi Balla, who was in attendance on Sunday, draw the tokens to fill the four champions places on the bracket, marking them 49th champion, 50th champion, 51st champion and 52nd champion.
Then, the neutral party again draws the four tiles representing the district runners-up.
The only rule is that if a runner-up is drawn to match up against its district champion, another opponent is drawn. Maybe, even take out that district’s runner-up to ensure it is not drawn.
Region records are posted for teams on the Kentucky High School Athletic Association website.
Draw the match ups for the district winners based on which district champion has the best region record, since it is the region tournament and all.
In the case of the boys’ tournament, North’s opponent would be selected first, followed by Harlan, South Laurel and then Knox Central gets whoever is left.
The drawing for the state tournaments occurred on March 10 while some teams were still finishing the regular season.
Using a similar method for the region, the drawing could take place before the district championship games.
Coaches would then have the opportunity to attend the other district championships and get a glimpse at the other teams, or, at least, watch some film and begin preparing a game plan.
The teams that tipped off the region tournament Monday night had one meeting and zero practice time.
Yes, you could conceivably have a team trying to play the match up game knowing it has a spot in the region tournament, but an upset in another district offers an easier route to the semi-finals.
But I believe most coaches want the next title in front of them, be it district or region. They are not going to go into the locker room and tell their players that it makes more sense to lose the district title.
Besides, whether it was Corbin and South Laurel, North Laurel and Clay County, or Knox Central and Barbourville, most district championship games in basketball are also heated rivalries. Losing those games is especially painful for the coach, players and the fans.
Let’s just see some tweaks to the process before 2022.