State coaches association blasts WIAA for regional format

In an effort to raise awareness of its efforts to expand the final week of the state basketball tournament, the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association sent a letter out after the final state regional game offering condolences for the 96 teams eliminated in this weekend’s games.

Prior to 2011, 16 teams went to the final state tournament in each classification. After the “regional round” format was implemented four years ago, only eight teams make it to the final week of the season. According to WIBCA’s press release, those 96 teams account for 1,152 players whose seasons ended this weekend.

“WIBCA … would like to send their sympathies to the following 96 basketball teams whose seasons were cut short of State by the regrettable Regional format that the WIAA has imposed upon the basketball community of this state,” the statement read, followed by the schools who lost in the regional round.

In boys’ games, Arlington, Mountlake Terrace and Shorecrest saw their seasons end. On the girls side, Glacier Peak, Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds-Woodway played their final contests.

WIBCA has been lobbying the Washington Interscholastic Coaches Association ever since the change to the format.

“As tournament fever spikes for high school basketball fans throughout the state of Washington, the regrettable Regional format that has replaced the Classic 16-Team Tournament leaves many basketball players and fans wanting,” the statement read. “… These teams, who have played by the WIAA slogan ‘Just Play Fair’ would be happy to just play. The argument that Regionals is somehow a ‘state’ experience rings hollow: a single-elimination evening game in a local high school gym pales in comparison to the promise and excitement of the Big Tournament in Spokane, Yakima, or Tacoma.”

On Prep Sports Weekly, The Herald’s weekly Monday radio show, WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbrese said the change was made for financial reasons. Cutting it down to eight teams cut the WIAA’s overhead nearly in half, according to Colbrese.

“I want to be careful and say it wasn’t a deficit,” Colbrese said on the show. “We just weren’t making the kind of money that we needed and we could see the continual downward tick.”

WIBCA said the WIAA might be saving money, but there’s still a high cost of the current tournament.

“These savings come at a very high price: lost memories, lost dreams and lost learning opportunities for countless young people throughout our state,” the statement read.

For more on the regional round of the state tournament, read David Krueger’s story coming next week.

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