SHERIDAN — After several parents of Big Horn High School and Tongue River High School basketball players expressed concern over the format of this year’s 2A regional basketball tournament, Sheridan County School District 1 Superintendent Pete Kilbride responded to those concerns with a statement from the Wyoming High School Activities Association.
Kilbride said the WHSAA sent an email out Wednesday morning asking schools to inform patrons there will be no changes made to the current format established. The WHSAA gave the following reasons:
Our goal is to still complete the season.
We have had the host sites working for the past month or longer on how to manage their crowds, tickets, etc.
If we were going to change, we would have needed to do it for all the winter sports. Wrestling and Swimming do not like their regional/conference formats either. State Indoor Track doesn’t like their format. We should allow several more qualifiers than the just the final eight in each event.
We have to keep the big picture in mind. The WHSAA would also love to have our regular format, but these adjustments have assisted us in getting through the year.
The argument that the best teams won’t get to state is the same argument we hear every year in the different classes with our regular format. If that is the ultimate goal, then we need to totally redo our current structure.
The Big Horn and Tongue River parents had requested the WHSAA return to a “normal” regional tournament format, specifically for basketball but including other sports as well in light of reduced numbers of COVID-19 in Wyoming and to allow more participants to qualify for state competitions.
During previous years, the eight regional teams competed in cross-conference play — for example, the No. 1 North East seed played the No. 4 South East seed — with the top four teams advancing to the state competition. The teams’ performance at the regional tournament determined its seeding at the state tournament — the East regional champions became the No. 1 East seed at state, for example.
This year, conference teams will play within their quadrant at various conference sites next Thursday. Big Horn and Tongue River boys will compete at Moorcroft, and the girls teams will play at Wright.
The No. 1 North East seed will play the No. 4 North East seed, and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed with the victorious two teams playing each other to determine seeding at the regional tournament. The two teams that lose will not advance to the regional tournament Saturday Feb. 27.
At the regional tournament, the No. 1 seeds from the North and South will play each other to determine seeding for the state tournament. The No. 2 seeds will do the same.
The same number of teams will compete at the state tournament as previous years, but the one-and-done qualification structure from the conference games prior to the regional tournament concerned Big Horn and Tongue River parents. Additionally, the North East conference has five teams compared to the South East conference’s three teams.
The WHSAA gave its above reasons, however, and said in its email Kilbride shared, “If you are involved in a winter sport, you will be notified by your coach as to when and where you will be competing, and best of luck to all competitors.”