Class A basketball, volleyball districts eliminatedStarting the 2013-14 school year, Class A girls’ and boys’ basketball district tournaments will be eliminated. Instead, two districts will comprise one region and have one tournament come playoff time.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
Starting the 2013-14 school year, Class A girls’ and boys’ basketball district tournaments will be eliminated. Instead, two districts will comprise one region and have one tournament come playoff time.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association approved the change during its Board of Directors meeting, which ran Tuesday and Wednesday in Pierre. Voting totals were unknown when this edition went to press.
The proposal originated from Class A athletic directors at a meeting earlier this year. Four districts in Class A: District 1, District 3, District 12 and District 14 currently only have three teams. In those districts, the No. 1 seeded team only had to win one game before making the region tournament while the other two teams had to win two games.
Parkston athletic director and girls’ basketball coach Rob Van Laecken said the decision was made to make the switch to try to have a fair tournament system for all the teams in Class A, not just the districts with four teams.
Now, in a region having eight teams, the teams will be seeded one through eight. In a region with seven teams, the teams will be seeded one through seven with the No. 1 seed receiving a bye.
Numerous area coaches didn’t seem surprised about the elimination of districts, but were disappointed with the change.
“I hate to see the district concept go,” McCook Central/Montrose boys’ basketball coach Bill Marquardt said. “I grew up with the system and coached with it for years.”
Van Laecken said even though he saw the change coming, he feels it will be a hard adjustment for a lot of teams.
“In our program, the district championship tradition runs deep,” said Van Laecken, who has won about 20 district championships during his time as Parkston’s girls’ basketball coach.
“It’s a big deal to win districts and it’s tough for Class A and Class B teams to get to the state championship anyway. I can see the reason for it, but I grew up with districts and everyone gets excited around that time. Some people may think that districts are old school, but I think we’re going to miss it.”
Platte-Geddes boys’ basketball coach Frank Cutler said for smaller schools, the district tournament was something the teams could look forward to. Platte-Geddes defeated Wagner to win the District 10A title this year.
“For example, this past year, we were obviously disappointed that we didn’t make it to the state tournament,” Cutler said. “But we have a district championship that we can look back at and have something to be proud of. So when I hear districts are going to be eliminated, disappointment is the first thing that comes to mind.”
Even though Cutler said he was disappointed by the change, he also said he can see the reason as to why the system needed to be modified.
“I was always glad that we were in a district that had four teams,” said Cutler, who’s been coaching basketball for 23 years. “I would not have wanted to be seeded No. 1 in a district that only had three teams, and I can see how it will benefit the No. 1 seed before regions.”
Other coaches said that they didn’t really feel like the switch to a region tournament is that big of a change.
Josh Davies, the Wagner boys’ basketball coach, said either way most teams will still have one common goal for the end of the year.
“It’s not a huge change,” he said. “The main goal throughout the year is to get to the state tournament. You still have to go through the same teams to get to the state tournament whether you play in a district tournament or a region tournament.”
Winner boys’ basketball coach Jim Drake said a lot of teams might not want to get rid of the district tournament, but he sees the advantages of both systems.
“When you had 64 teams and eight teams per district, everything worked out great,” Drake said. “But when you don’t have an even number of teams, this will be a better situation for reasons of fairness.”
Class A volleyball following suit
Another change to Class A sports in the 2013-14 school year will be the elimination of volleyball district tournaments. Just like the basketball districts, two districts will now be combined into one region and have one tournament. In a region having eight teams, the teams would be seeded one through eight. In a region with seven teams, the teams will be seeded one through seven with the number one seed receiving a bye.
This was also decided at the SDHSAA Board of Directors meeting earlier this week.
“Districts are a tradition and it’s something the girls look forward to every season,” McCook Central/Montrose head volleyball coach Tami Bies said. “When you take that away, you’re kind of taking that away from the girls. I do think it will change the Class A system a little bit, but we’re already in a competitive district and region as it is. By switching over we’re just going to intensify that competitiveness.”