KHSAA approves new Sweet 16 format for boys, girls

mfields@herald-leader.comApril 15, 2013 

Madison Central's Dominique Hawkins drove to the basket past Ballard's Malik Dow, left, and Quentin Snyder in the final 30 seconds of Sunday's Sweet Sixteen championship game. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

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The new look of this year's boys' Sweet Sixteen — with the championship game being played on Sunday — will be the look of the future for both the boys' and girls' state basketball tournaments.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association's Board of Control voted unanimously on Monday to adopt the format of this year's boys' Sweet Sixteen for its signature boys' and girls' events for the foreseeable future.

KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said the change to Sunday finals was "inevitable. It was just a matter of when it would happen." Under the traditional format, the semifinals were played on Saturday morning/early afternoon, and the finals on Saturday night.

Because of a scheduling conflict in Rupp Arena this year, the boys' schedule had to be tweaked. The semifinals were held on Saturday night, and the finals on Sunday afternoon.

Both sessions were rousing successes in terms of competition and attendance.

In the Saturday night semifinals, Madison Central rallied past Hopkinsville, and Ballard held off Montgomery County in front of 20,172 fans.

In Sunday afternoon's title game, Madison Central came from 16 points down to beat Ballard on a three-pointer in the closing seconds with a crowd of 17,351 looking on.

The girls' tournament in Bowling Green was played under the traditional format.

Tackett said adopting the new format for the boys' and girls' tournaments was a "kids-first decision" in that it wasn't fair to ask teams to play two games in one day, and that spreading the semifinals and finals over two days will lessen the fatigue factor.

Tackett also said this year's boys' Sweet Sixteen "reaffirmed that our semifinals have been hidden for too long" and that fans will turn out for a Sunday finals.

The starting times for the semifinals and finals can be adjusted year to year to avoid televised University of Kentucky games in the SEC or NCAA tournaments.

Board of Control member Ron Dawn, a veteran boys' and girls' basketball coach at Newport Central Catholic, likes the change. He coached several times in the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic, which has always played its semifinals on Saturday and its finals on Sunday, so he knew the format worked.

"I didn't understand why we (the KHSAA) didn't go to it before," Dawn said. "Playing two games on one day, you don't get the best out of your kids or your coaches.

"I think the new (format) is great."

The Board of Control also voted to change the format of the state volleyball tournament. In the past it held its quarterfinals, semifinals and finals on Saturday.

The new format will have the quarterfinals on Saturday morning, the semifinals on Saturday night and the finals on Sunday afternoon.

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

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