Basketball tournaments have new look

Baseball, softball and other sports do it after their regular seasons, so why not postseason basketball?

This season, the Ohio High School Athletic Association is placing more emphasis on higher seeds by allowing them to host first- and second-round games instead of the games being played on a neutral court. This goes for both the boys’ and girls’ tournaments.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how this unfolds,” Howland athletic director Ron McCleary said. “We’re doing it in every other sport. It seems logical to do it in basketball as well.”

Howland has hosted the Division III boys basketball tournament since 2008.

With the new format, Howland High School will host the district semifinals on separate nights, as well as the district final (March 3, 4 and 7).

“For us, it’s a little bit of relief because as far the facility goes with softball and baseball starting and teams still practicing at that time,” McCleary said. “It crowds the facility. We compromised a little bit to get that tournament in.”

Besides the new format, Warren G. Harding athletic director Paul Trina saw a change to the Raiders’ tournament. WGH has hosted the Division IV sectional/district since 2004 – a tournament Windham has dominated over the years.

Now, a bulk of those teams are heading to the Division IV Orwell District. In place, Harding gets the Division II tournament that Boardman had hosted since 1991.

The Warren area could benefit from hosting potential teams such as Canfield and Poland (the top two seeds) when the tournament finally makes its way to Harding. WGH hosts the district semifinals on March 5 and 6 and the championship game on March 8.

“Just because it’s a bigger division, people assume it will be more people. I don’t know if that will be the case or not. We’ll have to wait and see,” Trina said.

When Harding hosted the Division IV tournament, it benefited from crowds watching teams like John F. Kennedy, Maplewood, Bristol, Windham and McDonald.

“We watched the D-IV tournament grow at our place. It was a little bit smaller, but we had great crowds in the semifinals and finals,” Trina said. “When they brought McDonald over to our tournament, it really got good.”

Both athletic directors said the lack of gate revenue from the sectionals won’t really be missed, but where it will hurt is the concessions.

“They’re a big fundraiser for the booster club,” McCleary said. “The school loses a little bit of revenue generated by the rental fee – nothing that is going to have an extreme effect on our budgets or anything like that.”

“The boosters are the ones who really feel it. We barely make anything as a district other than what the concessions are,” Trina said.

He added with the change in format, players and coaches can’t get a glimpse at other teams in the tournament or scout those they would be playing in the next round.

“It loses a little bit of the thrill of going to a tournament site,” Trina said. “Unless you make it to the final four, you’re not ever getting to that tournament site.

“Four teams are getting the feel of a tournament site as opposed to 12, if you want to do the numbers. You got 12 schools that are not going to feel that tournament-site atmosphere.”