At the LHSAA's annual convention in January 2010, the member schools' principals decided to make changes to the high school state basketball championship tournaments.
In previous years, the girls' and boys' teams played their semi-final games during different weeks and at various locations.
This year, the committee wants to decrease travel time and make the tournaments more convenient for both teams and fans. In 2012, the semifinals will take place at three different regional sites; the finals will be held at one location. Semi-finals are scheduled to be played in Monroe on the University of Louisiana-Monroe campus, in Hammond on the Southeastern Louisiana University campus and in Lake Charles at the Civic Center. The girls' and boys' teams will be placed at a particular location based on their seed ranking. For example, if a team from the Lake Charles area is ranked first place coming into the tournament, it will play at the Civic Center; however, if the team is ranked much lower, there is a strong possibility that they will have to travel to another site farther from their home base. Both the girls' and boys' finals will be played at Louisiana Tech at the Thomas Assembly Arena on the Karl Malone court.
One change that is meant to be both school- and fan-friendly is that some schools will be placed in the "swing school" category and may end up at more than one regional semifinal site. The schools that may be affected include those located between two regional sites. If girls' and boys' teams from the same school end up at two different regional locations, they will not play on the same night, thus giving fans the opportunity to watch both teams compete.
The number of semi-final games to be played will not change; however, the number of games played at a particular site will be based on how many higher ranked teams come from that particular area. For example, if a large number of the highly ranked teams come from the Lake Charles area, there will be more games held at the Civic Center than at the other two locations. If there are seven semifinal games held at a particular site, two will be played on Thursday and Friday and three will be played on Saturday. If eight games are necessary at any one site, an extra game will be added to Saturday's schedule. Should there be nine semifinal games, two will be played on Thursday, three on Friday and four on Saturday. Three games will be played on Thursday, three on Friday and four on Saturday if there are 10 semifinal games. An extra game will be added to Saturday's schedule if 11 games are mandatory at any one site. Thursday will continue to be reserved for girls' basketball only.
The LHSAA is excited for what this change will do for the future of high school basketball in Louisiana. The association looks forward with optimism to find out how the new format will work for student-athletes, schools and communities. Make plans now to follow your favorite teams throughout the regular season and beyond in what is always an exciting playoff time.
Kenny Henderson is the Executive Director of the LHSAA.