In an effort to promote a better atmosphere for fans and players alike, the state championship committee for the Oregon School Activities Association has proposed a change in venue and schedules for the boys and girls basketball state tournaments beginning in 2015.
The biggest change involves those at the Class 6A level, where the committee has proposed moving the boys and girls tournaments from the 19,980-seat Moda Center in Portland to the 4,852-seat Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus.
Also, instead of having mixed sessions with the boys and girls games — which has drawn considerable criticism since the tournaments were combined in 2010 — the committee has proposed gender-specific sessions to align more with the wishes of coaches and fans.
"We want the boys and girls tournaments to be separate," said South Medford athletic director Dennis Murphy on the topic in December. "It was that way for years and when you really look at the experience in the big picture since they combined the two tournaments, it has not been successful. I really think it's hurt attendance. I think the girls had a good thing going at the University of Portland when it was just girls, and we had something good like that when we were back in Eugene."
The large-school girls tournament was played at the Chiles Center from 1983 to 2009, while the large-school boys tournament moved to the former Rose Garden in 2010 after six years at McArthur Court in Eugene. Memorial Coliseum in Portland was home to the big-school boys tournament from 1966-2003.
Attendance has been an issue during recent years, causing some to call for an end to the consolation round games played in front of an almost empty arena, and most have found the mixed-session format — where boys and girls games trade off — didn't fulfill their wishes.
To alleviate some of those concerns, the committee has proposed a compromise with each classification's tournaments played at the same venue but in gender-specific sessions.
In 2015, the Class 6A girls quarterfinals would be played on the first day and the boys quarterfinals on the second day. After that, the third day of the tournament would feature the girls semifinals in an early session and the boys semifinals at night, with the final day schedule putting the girls third-place and championship games in an early session and the corresponding boys games in the final session.
The schedules would rotate each year.
Similar gender-specific sessions have been proposed for the remaining classifications, with the 5A tournament moving to Gill Goliseum in Corvallis and the 4A tournament to Liberty and Century high schools in Hillsboro. The 3A tournament would be at Marshfield and North Bend high schools, while the 2A tourney will be at the Pendleton Convention Center and the 1A tourney at Baker High School.
OSAA assistant executive director Peter Weber has said a move away from the Moda Center would provide a more intimate setting and could potentially save fans money in tickets, parking and concessions, although he was quick to add that Portland's top basketball arena has worked hard to provide for the best possible atmosphere for all involved since 2010.
THE OSAA COMMITTEE'S proposal also changed how teams are selected for the state playoffs, including a dip in the number of potential play-in games at the 6A level to none at all for football.
In the state championship committee's final recommendation, a 32-team bracket for football would be formed using a qualifying format that provides for four automatic qualifiers from each of the six leagues and then the final eight spots coming from the highest ranked non-qualifying teams. All six league champions will be guaranteed to host a first-round game, with the bracket set up using final power rankings.
In 6A volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball and softball, each league will advance four automatic qualifiers from each league to a 32-team bracket. Four spots would then be awarded to the highest ranked non-qualifying teams, with the final four spots reserved for the winners of four play-in games involving the next eight highest ranked teams.
In 6A cross country, the top three teams in each district meet plus individuals in the top 10 who are not on a qualifying team advance to the state championships. In 6A swimming, district meet league champions in each event plus individuals/relays meeting established qualifying standards will advance, with lanes filled to 20 participants using wildcards.
The top four doubles teams and top four singles team from each district meet will advance to a 24-person bracket in 6A tennis, while the top three 6A wrestlers in each weight class within each district meet — with a maximum of two entries per school at each weight — advancing to the state tournament.
In 6A track and field, the top two in each district meet event will qualify for the state meet, with four wildcards selected from qualifying standards (five-year average of the state's fifth-place mark) and pooled marks.
For 6A golf, district tournament team champions and the top two district tournament individuals automatically qualify for the state tourney. Golf teams finishing second through fourth, as well as individuals who finish third through seventh, at the district tournament advance to a post-district event. From there, the top two sub-district teams and top five post-district individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state tourney.
SOUTH MEDFORD junior standout Andee Ritter, injured Saturday during play at the MLK Showcase in Stockton, Calif., said she will undergo an MRI today to determine the extent of her knee injury.
Ritter, a third-year starter, was upended going up for a shot during Saturday's 70-68 loss to Salesian High of Richmond, Calif. The versatile 6-foot guard, who has drawn Division I interest, entered last Friday's game against North Medford averaging 15.8 points for the Panthers.
In Ritter's absence, no one stepped up more than Washington State-bound senior Ashley Bolston, who poured in a career-high 38 points before fouling out with 30 seconds to play against Salesian on Saturday. The 6-foot-2 Bolston also pulled down 15 rebounds and continued to display her all-around prowess as she helped shoulder the load in a 62-57 win over Clovis West on Monday that improved the top-ranked Panthers to 12-3 overall.
Bolston entered the weekend as the Southern Oregon Hybrid's leading scorer at 18.9 points per game with a high of 33 until Saturday's breakout effort.
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