2013 Boys' Sweet Sixteen title game moved to Sunday

mfields@herald-leader.comJuly 31, 2012 

Tweaking tradition.

That's what the Kentucky High School Athletic Association is doing with the Boys' Sweet Sixteen championship.

For the first time in the 95-year history of the event, the title game of the boys' state basketball tournament will be on Sunday next March.

Traditionally, the Sweet Sixteen semifinals have been played Saturday morning/afternoon, and the finals are Saturday night.

But because of a potential conflict with a University of Kentucky men's game in Rupp Arena on March 9, the KHSAA will tweak the state tournament by holding the semi finals Saturday night (March 9) and the finals Sunday afternoon (March 10).

"They say that necessity is the mother of invention," KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said in a news release. "While we all like to be reverent to tradition ... circum stances have created both a need and an opportunity for us to try something different for one year, and we will see what happens with it.

"The worst that can happen is we go back to the formula we know has worked for most of our 94 years."

Scott County Coach Billy Hicks, whose teams have played in four state finals since 1998, was ecstatic when he heard about the change.

"Gosh almighty, this is a great step forward," he said. "I think it should've been done a long time ago.

"Moving the finals to Sunday makes the final four on Saturday a big deal, like it should be."

Hicks recalled Scott County's upset of nationally ranked Lexington Catholic in the 1998 Sweet Sixteen semifinals on Rick Jones' last-second three-pointer, and how that epic game ultimately was overshadowed by the Cardinals' victory over Paintsville in the finals that night.

"Our game with Lexington Catholic was a great one, but it almost became a footnote," Hicks said. "The final four should get a lot of attention, its own day, and next year it will. I hope the KHSAA keeps the finals on Sunday from now on."

Ballard Coach Chris Renner is also a Sweet Sixteen veteran, having coached the Bruins to four championship games in the past 13 years.

He thinks moving the finals to Sunday will alleviate the fatigue factor.

"I think it will make for a better championship game," Renner said. "With all the emotion that goes into the semifinals and the (pre-game) ceremony for the finals, it's really draining for everybody involved.

"Having the semifinals on Saturday night and the finals on Sunday will give everybody more time to prepare and rest up."

Renner hopes attendance will hold up since fans will have to stick around an extra day.

"The way it's been, this has always been the best state tournament in the country," he said. "We really won't know what impact this change will have until we see what happens next March."

The Girls' Sweet Sixteen in Bowling Green won't be affected, and it will follow its traditional schedule, with the semifinals and finals Saturday, March 16.

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com

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