Sully Says: State hoop tourneys=long drives
I 'll be honest with you. I cringe when I get the e-mail announcing the sites for the State Basketball Tourneys.
These are the sites for the State Tourneys:
Class 7A Van Buren, Class 6A Lake Hamilton, Class 5A Magnolia, Class 4A Nashville, Class 3A Bald Knob , Class 2A Quitman and Class A Mt. Ida. I was hoping that at least one of the seven tourneys would be held in Central Arkansas.
For most of the schools involved in State Tourney play, long drives will be part of the experience.
Class 5A is the most talked about classification in the state. These are the drive times to Magnolia for the 5A State Tourney teams:
Less than one hour: Magnolia
- One hour: Hope
- Two hours: Parkview, Watson Chapel, Sylvan Hills, Maumelle, Hot Springs, Fair, Mills, Dequeen, Pulaski Academy
- Three hours: Greenbrier , Morrilton, Beebe
- Four hours: Alma, Valley View, Batesville , Nettleton , Forrest City
- Five hours: Harrison, Byltheville , Greene Co. Tech, Paragould, Farmington
13 teams will travel three hours or more to play in the 5A State Tourney.
Keep in mind, half these teams will play more than one game. Long drives and hotel stays will be common in Class 5A.
If I was the basketball czar, no team would have home court advantage in State Tourney play. I would love to see neutral State Championship sites in the middle of the state. Our goal should be to do the best we can to give every team an equal shot to win a state title.
The best example of what I'm looking for is the just-completed State Wrestling Tourney. I don't know if there is a better run sporting event in the state. Tourney director Greg Hatcher, who is known for "outrageous service," turns the Jack Stephens center into a premier wrestling venue. I would love to see Hatcher hired as a high school state tourney consultant.
Pulaski County is a hotbed for high school talent. We had great games and big crowds all season. The final game of the season in Pulaski County was the much anticipated 5A Central District Tourney championship game. The Maumelle High gym was busting at the seams. A capacity crowd of 2,300 watched Parkview win 57-55 in overtime. It's unfortunate that no State Tourney games will be played in Pulaski County.
There is a great general interest basketball crowd in the Little Rock metro area. I'm convinced that if Parkview and Mills or Maumelle hooked up in the 5A state semifinals, you could fill the Stephens Center.
It's my understanding that State Tourney sites are based on a bid system. One issue in the past has been the reluctance of many schools to extend a bid because they view it as a losing cause when it comes to making money. Until the Arkansas Activities Association makes it more financially attractive to host a State Tourney, you will probably see most State Tourneys played one, two or three hours away from the capital city.
It's my hope that all the State Tourneys go smoothly this week, and I hope to see the best of the best in Hot Springs for Championship weekend, the best three days of the high school season.
Until then, safe travels!