With seating capacity needed to exceed 12,000, the boys basketball season will move up a week next winter. So too will the dates for the state championship games at MSU.

With seating capacity needed to exceed 12,000, the boys basketball season will move up a week next winter. So too will the dates for the state championship games at MSU.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Boys, girls basketball to flip season start, finals next winter

By: Mike Moore | C&G Newspapers | Published April 26, 2018

 The 2019 girls finals will be held at Calvin College again, only one week later than was the case this past winter.

The 2019 girls finals will be held at Calvin College again, only one week later than was the case this past winter.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

METRO DETROIT — Born out of necessity, and essentially serving as the undercard to the NCAA basketball tournament, the Michigan High School Athletic Association is going to have a newer look to it next winter in regard to boys and girls basketball.

Or at least a new calendar.

“Our hand is really being forced here,” MHSAA Communications Director John Johnson said last week. “We had to do what other states have had to do, and that’s just to get out of the way of the (NCAA) tournament.”

So, with next year’s first round of the NCAA women’s tournament set to fall on the same weekend as the prep boys semifinals and finals would have — thus leaving the Breslin Center unavailable in the event the Michigan State University team is going to be a host — the boys season is essentially trading timelines with the girls.

In other words, the boys will begin practice Nov. 5, 2018; begin the state playoffs Feb. 25, 2019; and close the season with finals games  March 16, 2019, at the Breslin Center.

That would usually be the time frame of the girls season.

Instead, the girls will begin practice Nov. 12, start the tournament March 4 and close the season March 23 at Calvin College, the same location as the 2018 finals.

“Ideally, as we have in the past, we’d like the girls and boys finals to be back-to-back weekends at the same venue,” Johnson said. “The years we’ve been able to do that at the Breslin have been awesome. But things change, and in this instance, MSU can’t make itself available those weekends.”

The MHSAA was also forced to flip due to the necessary number of seats needed for the boys finals.

Johnson said it’s usually in the 12,000 count, and the Breslin Center, on the weekend of March 15-16, was the only place available.

“The (University of Michigan) has told us they can’t host, mainly for the same reasons MSU can’t the normal weekend we would have had the finals,” Johnson explained. “Some of the other venues simply haven’t been interested in granting us those three days we would need. And people ask about Little Caesars Arena, but the cost of that is well beyond our means.”

The schedule change is locked for next winter, though Johnson said the MHSAA Executive Council is considering other options for the future should this calendar quandary present itself again. 

The other option that Johnson said may be considered is a three-week concurrent playoff for both genders.

Districts would be played on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for one gender, and on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the other.

The rotation would continue through the semifinals, which would then be held at neutral locations across the state, before all 16 teams would unite for Friday and Saturday finals.

“The concerns are there, though,” Johnson said. “You have to think about officials, playoff host schools being overwhelmed, MHSAA staff, and frankly, the loss of attendance we would anticipate at the semifinals.”

Johnson stressed that the 2019 tournament is a one-year deal, one where the girls were already contractually obligated to play at Calvin College anyway.

“Our goal is give this a good airing out and, for the 2020 tournament and beyond, have a better plan,” he said. “We’re going to do it this way this year, get the feedback we need to and adjust in the future.”