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Regional basketball tournaments’ demise will hurt GSL

A tradition that began here in 1988 will come to an end next year.

The 4A and 3A boys and girls basketball regional tournaments between the Greater Spokane League and the Columbia Basin Big Nine League are going the way of the dinosaur.

CBBN athletic directors decided at a meeting last week to abandon the regional format with the GSL in basketball largely because the CBBN couldn’t compress its regular-season schedule by one week, GSL secretary Randy Ryan said. It would have forced too many midweek games in the far-flung conference and wouldn’t allow flexibility for possible makeups because of poor weather.

This is a costly decision for the GSL, which had shared gate receipts with the CBBN at regionals. According to information provided by Ryan, GSL schools have shared anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 most years. That money has been used to subsidize travel expenses to regional and state tournaments.

The best year was in 2000 when the GSL schools garnered nearly $30,000. The low year was 2006 when just $7,500 came this way – and that was largely because mostly GSL schools were in the semifinals and finals at the Toyota Center.

The regional, held the last four years in Kennewick, was scheduled to return this way next year. Ryan had a commitment from EWU to host the tourney with Lamb Weston as the corporate sponsor. Instead, Lamb Weston will likely become the title sponsor for the CBBN’s district tournaments, Ryan said.

Lewis and Clark girls coach Jim Redmon understands the difficult economic times. His concern, as he has shared before, is if you change the state format it’s not likely that the WIAA will go back to the old format.

Eliminating the combined GSL/CBBN regional tourney could mean that the best teams from this side of the state will not qualify for state.

“This whole concept is not going to always guarantee, in my mind, that the best teams will get to Tacoma,” Redmon said.

When the GSL decided to combine its state berths with the CBBN in the late 1980s, it did so with the strategy Redmon alluded to – get the best teams to state from this region.

So now what will likely happen is the GSL’s district champion and CBBN’s district champion will meet in the first round of the new state regional format to play for a berth to the Elite Eight the following week in Tacoma. The GSL’s No. 2 and CBBN’s No. 2 will meet in a loser-out playoff to decide a second berth to the state regional where it will face a team most likely from the Tacoma area. The winner will take on the loser of the No. 1 seeds game for a berth in the Elite Eight.

•The GSL teams that could get the short end of the new state regional format are from 3A. As it stands now, just the District 8 3A champ will advance to the state regional. The CBBN will have eight 3A teams and the GSL will have four next year. So the CBBN will get two berths to the state regional to the GSL’s one.

Ryan hopes to float a proposal to the CBBN. With approval from the GSL 3A schools, Ryan would like to offer that the GSL district champ play the CBBN’s district third-place team for a berth to the regional state and the GSL’s district runner-up play the CBBN district runner-up for a berth.

It would give the GSL an opportunity to earn two berths and the CBBN the opportunity to sweep all three berths.