Basketball

High school basketball: Format changes coming to girls, boys IHSA state finals

Woodstock North celebrates winning the Class 3A Genoa-Kingston Regional last season.
Woodstock North celebrates winning the Class 3A Genoa-Kingston Regional last season.

The IHSA is condensing the schedule for the boys and girls basketball state finals, the IHSA announced Monday.

Beginning with the 2021 state finals, all four classes of girls basketball will play the state semifinals and championship games the first weekend of March (March 4-6, 2021), running Thursday through Saturday. All four classes of boys basketball semifinals and championship games will take place one week later (March 11-13, 2021).

The locations for the 2021 through 2023 state finals have not been determined. The IHSA Board of Directors will seek requests for proposals from potential host sites, according to an IHSA news release.

According to the IHSA, all four classes still will have four teams qualifying for state. The number of games each day and game times “will be finalized in the coming months.”

“There has been a great deal of support for this new tournament format over the past few months,” Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement released by the IHSA. “We tried to be as transparent as possible, communicating the idea and seeking feedback from basketball coaches and school administrators throughout the state in a variety of ways. It was fairly unanimous that most felt like it was an idea worth trying.”

Currently, the state finals for girls and boys basketball take place Friday and Saturday over four weekends, with the Classes 1A and 2A girls basketball finals and the Classes 3A and 4A finals held on consecutive weekends in late February and early March at Illinois State’s Redbird Arena in Normal.

The boys basketball state finals split up the Classes 1A and 2A finals, followed by 3A and 4A on consecutive weekends in March at Carver Arena in Peoria.

The girls basketball finals have been at Illinois State since 1992. Next March will mark 25 years in Peoria for the boys basketball state finals.

“We obviously have great relationships with both venues and host communities,” said Anderson. “We fully expect both to bid once again, but believe it’s only fair to open up the process in conjunction with these format changes so that they can evaluate if and how it impacts them. We are not tied to any host format. We’d be open to having both tournaments at the same venue or continuing to have them in separate venues.”

The IHSA said changes for the format will alter the postseason schedules for regionals, sectionals and supersectionals beginning in 2021, although it did not provide any further details.

Worth noting: The IHSA approved the 30-point "mercy rule" running clock for postseason games in girls and boys basketball. The rule previously applied only to regular-season games.

Pay raise: The IHSA board approved a recommendation to increase pay for all IHSA officials in the postseason. That increase applies to all sports.

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