PIAA basketball committee wants state semifinals on weekend, not weekday

Sunday, April 11, 2021 | 11:38 PM

The state basketball tournament might begin a few days earlier next winter, if the PIAA basketball committee gets its wish.

The committee met March 31 and unanimously recommended starting the 2022 tournament on a Tuesday and Wednesday rather than a Friday and Saturday. The intended benefit was to have the semifinals fall on a weekend rather than a school night as they do now, making travel easier for teams busing across the state.

“Having that (semifinal) game on a Monday/Tuesday — and also with a quick turnaround for the championships — can sometimes be problematic,” PIAA assistant executive director Jennifer Grassel said.

The proposal was discussed briefly when the PIAA board met Wednesday and referred to a summer workshop in June. The plan was tabled on a motion from District 1 chairman Michael Barber, who represents suburban Philadelphia schools. Barber’s concerns were weather related.

If a district championship game were postponed, he asked, would there be time to reschedule before the state playoffs start?

“If we have for instance a championship on a Saturday and we get snowed out at Temple University, we’re not likely going to play until Monday or Tuesday,” Barber said.

The board’s summer workshop is June 22.

Cross-state travel wasn’t an issue this winter since the PIAA reduced the basketball bracket to district champions only. The 2020 tournament was canceled before reaching the semifinals because of the pandemic.

But in previous years, some WPIAL basketball teams traveled halfway across the state on a Monday or Tuesday night. For example, in 2019, the Peters Township girls rode 6 hours round trip on a Monday for a 6 p.m. semifinal in Centre County.

If the basketball committee’s recommendation is approved, teams would enter the state basketball tournament Tuesday, March 8, 2022, or Wednesday, March 9, 2022. The second round would be March 11-12, with quarterfinals March 15-16 and semifinals March 18-19.

Finalists would have nearly a week off before the championships March 24-26.

The basketball committee also recommended grouping the state finals by classification with Class A and 4A boys and girls on a Thursday, Class 2A and 5A on a Friday, and 3A and 6A on a Saturday. Currently, boys and girls teams from the same classification play their state finals on different days.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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