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Readers not happy with WIAA state basketball format

I’ve heard from you high school basketball fans.

Thanks for the e-mails or the short chats between state tournament games. The bulk of what I heard or read is not favorable of the changes the WIAA made in the state tournaments.

The new format wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I attended the state tournaments in Tacoma, and, quite frankly, a three-day tourney was much better than a four-day tourney.

There should be some tweaking, though. I would wholeheartedly endorse the new format if the WIAA changed the first weekend games to regional qualifiers, not the first round of state. Losing a state opener and being able to come back and take home the championship – like Sunnyside Christian did – isn’t right.

So here are some thoughts readers shared with me:

• “I believe the (state) tournament was much better as a 16-team field,” East Valley of Yakima girls basketball coach Robi Raab said. “The WIAA will soon be detailing how it was a financial success for them. I think they will have an increase in final profit since they count the regional games as ‘state’. The additional revenue for the WIAA comes directly at the expense of school districts and fans. Ten-dollar, single-day tickets at regionals and then $28 for a three-day pass at state. That $48 cost is significantly higher than a $30-$32 ticket in past years.”

Good points.

Raab had another observation.

“A large number of schools had to travel and spend the night at regional sites,” Raab said. “Easy examples are West Valley of Spokane and Clarkston.  It was ludicrous for those two schools to drive to Ellensburg and play a 9:15 p.m. game with the winner to state and the loser playing the next day.  They could easily have played at a neutral site in Spokane and the loser travel to Ellensburg the next day.”

• Another reader thought the changes would only affect the biggest classifications, not the smaller ones too.

“I expected 3A and 4A would go to this arrangement because of declining attendance at loser-out contests,” Bob Greenhow said. “This is just how the top two classifications were run from 1980 to 1987.  Back then the arrangement was hailed because it replaced the all-regional format of 1964 to 1973 (two rounds of regional play with the winner of each region advancing to actual tournament play – two games each night). But I had no idea that the smaller classifications would be changed. I think the WIAA overreacted.”

Many people agree with you Bob.

• George Root doesn’t mince words regarding his feelings about the new format.

“It stinks,” Root wrote in an e-mail. “Win once to get to the final eight, four teams lose once and are gone. Four teams have to win twice to get there. Four teams get two chances to get there. This is not my idea of fair.”

Then Root offered a solution.

“The No. 1 seed plays No. 3 and No. 2 plays No. 2 and winners move on,” Root said. “This is the first tournament I ever heard of where someone gets a second chance to win it all.”

• “GSL Fan” offered a comment on our blog, SportsLink, that is shared by many.

“The ultimate solution is to consolidate back to 3A, 2A, 1A and B – make the ‘regionals’ mean something and state truly will be representative of an accomplishment,” GSL Fan said.