The Georgia High School Association pushed back the state basketball tournament a second time on Wednesday and gave regions two more days – or until next Wednesday, Feb. 19 – to finish their playoffs.
The GHSA will meet Friday to set new dates for the state tournament, but it could start as late as Friday, Feb. 21, three days later than planned. The culprit is snow and ice that has closed several school systems in North Georgia.
GHSA associate director Ernie Yarbrough, who coordinates basketball, said the association was moved to act because of weather reports and word that many regions feared they could not resume play until Saturday and could be forced to play two rounds in one day or even shorten the tournament.
‘’We just want to ease people’s minds so that they can relax, and even if they can’t get anything done until Friday or even Saturday, they don’t have to double up games,’’ Yarbrough said. ‘’We want teams to play their region tournaments as originally bracketed.’’
Yarbrough also was concerned that some regions considered eliminating some early rounds, which regions have a right to do, but at the expense of eliminating teams from a chance to qualify for the state tournament. Except in Class A, where a power rating determines the state-playoff field, the region tournaments serve to determine which four teams from each region makes the state tournament.
“These kids play hard all season long,” Yarbrough said. “And the beauty of the basketball post-season is that even in a 12-team region, even the team that finished 12th would still have a shot.”
If the GHSA decides to start the state tournament on Feb. 21, that would mean the playoffs would be scheduled each day through the semifinals, except Sunday, with each round lasting two days – Feb. 21-22 first round, Feb. 24-25 second round, Feb. 26-27 third round and Feb. 28-March 1 semifinals. The semifinals, scheduled for neutral sites, cannot easily be rescheduled because of contracts that the GHSA has with those venues, mostly on college campuses. So any new schedule must bump up against that.
But Yarbrough stressed that no decision had been made on that schedule.
Yarbrough also noted that the first day of the two-day round is typically for girls games, the second for boys, meaning teams would get a day of rest in between rounds. But he also suggested that the GHSA would not be as restrictive on that requirement if it allowed for practical scheduling solutions.
“What we’ll look at is flexibility in scheduling,’’ Yarbrough said. “We’re not going to list firm dates that girls have to play this day or another day. We’re going to allow some flexibility for the schools to work it out since they are going to be played at schools.’’