Get ready for an up-tempo state basketball tournament.
The twice-delayed state playoffs will begin Friday, Feb. 21, with games scheduled every day except two through the semifinals, the Georgia High School Association announced Friday.
The new schedule calls for four rounds in nine days. Two years ago, it took a full two weeks to play the same four rounds.
‘’I’ve been here 13 years and had to adjust on occasion due to weather a day or two, but never to this extent,’’ said Ernie Yarbrough, the GHSA’s basketball coordinator.
The snow and ice storm kept many North Georgia school systems closed through Friday. The GHSA earlier this week gave regions until Wednesday to finish their tournaments that qualify teams for the state playoffs. The region playoffs originally were scheduled to end last Saturday.
The net result is a three-day delay to the state tournament and a schedule that will be a mad dash to the semifinals. The finals won’t be played until five to seven days later, March 6-8 in the Macon Coliseum, but the GHSA declined to move back the semifinals.
‘’With the first three rounds played at the school sites, there was wiggle room there to adjust those,’’ Yarbrough said. ‘’We had to be sensitive to the following weekend, which is the semifinals. Those are neutral sites where we have contracts with universities around the state. We can’t back those up.’’
Girls games are to be scheduled on the first day of each round, and boys games are to be scheduled on the second day. That would avoid teams having to play on consecutive days.
Decades ago, it was common practice for teams to play on consecutive days when the tournament was held over one week at the same venue, usually the Macon Coliseum or Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum. That changed in the mid-1970s. This year's state basketball tournament will feature the fastest four rounds since the expansion to a 32-team bracket in all classes in 1998-99.
The basketball tournament wasn’t the only GHSA event that required major rescheduling. The state wrestling championships, scheduled for this weekend at the Gwinnett Arena, have been moved to Feb. 21-22.
State basketball tournament schedule:
*First round: Feb. 21-22 (Friday-Saturday)
Second round: Feb. 24-25 (Monday-Tuesday)
Third round: Feb. 26-27 (Wednesday-Thursday)
Semifinals: March 1 (Saturday)
Semifinals: March 3 (Monday) for Class A public only
Finals: March 6-8 (Thursday-Saturday)
*Class A will begin on Feb. 24 and requires only four rounds.
Notification of semifinals classification site assignments will be made on Wednesday, Feb. 26.