This From the Sidelines column appeared in the January 9, 2019 print edition of the News Journal…
Last week we saw the first-ever 13th Region boys and girls 2A championship basketball tournaments played at Corbin High School. As with most anything that is new, there was a bit of confusion, but overall I think that things went pretty smoothly.
Our region’s tourneys featured just three games each, but my hope is to see the field of teams expand beginning next season, allowing for quarterfinal round contests like some other regions had.
The current format of the 2A basketball tournaments is to crown four sectional champions, with sectional title games being held at multiple locations throughout the state. From there, the sectional champs will play against runner-up teams from other sections in the first round of a single-elimination state tournament that is being held in Owensboro. Play continues until you have a 2A state champ, with the last game potentially being a sectional champ versus sectional champ, runner-up versus runner-up or champ versus runner-up scenario.
I hope all of that makes sense. My only real gripe about this format is the fact that a team, or teams, may potentially find themselves having to travel long distances in order to play in a sectional final that, in the end, will only matter for the purposes of determining who will face whom in round one of the state championship tournament. However, I suppose it’s really no different than one of our local teams traveling to Red Bird, Oneida Baptist or Harlan three separate times in one week to compete in an All “A” region tournament. A fair amount of travel is going to be required either way, and it all probably just about equals out in the end.
The All “A” Classic is played each year similar to how the big KHSAA state championship tournaments are held at the end of the season, with 16 regions crowning 16 champions that go on to compete in a Sweet 16 single-elimination bracket. I don’t know if the plan is for the 2A to possibly adopt this format as well at some point down the road, but for now the sectional format serves the purpose, and it helps to set this event apart from the All “A,” giving it its own identity.
As more teams are added to the 2A field, who knows how the tournament could evolve? My understanding is that there were several teams that could have participated this year, but chose not to for whatever reason. I guess I could understand not wanting in if it was something that had been brought on suddenly, but we’ve known this event was coming for a good while now. Why not give your squad a chance to contend for another regional, sectional and possibly state title?
Personally, my hope is that we can find a way to move these classified tournaments to February and March, and crown multiple state champs at the end of each season as opposed to just one. Now, inside that one statement is a WHOLE LOT of considerations. I understand this, but still, I also believe that it might be time to begin thinking about how we might be able to crown multiple state champs in basketball, same as how we do in football. And then we can begin to look at how we might do the same in other sports as well. We could also crown multiple Mr. and Ms. Basketballs, and multiple Mr. Footballs, but let’s not get off track here.
My main point in writing this column was to give my opinion on the 2A championships, and to wish event organizers the best of luck moving forward into the future. I believe the plan is to start 2A baseball and softball tournaments beginning next school year, and then introduce volleyball and soccer tourneys in 2020-21. It sounds like a large undertaking, and I suppose that’s because it absolutely is. I really hope they can pull it all off, though, and I commend the efforts of all that are, or will be, involved in the process.
With Corbin’s eliminations last week, my experience covering 2A games is over for now. I just saw the tip of the iceberg, with other reporters now being tasked with traveling to cover sectional and state level contests. Very soon, some newspapers, radio stations and television crews out there will be getting the chance to cover a state championship game that didn’t even exist this time a year ago. It’s a pretty cool thought, and I sincerely hope that this will be only the beginning of a successful future for all 2A championships.