By Greg Halbleib
BLOOMINGTON – The Illinois High School Association board has approved combining the state basketball finals into single weekends each for girls and boys.
The IHSA board approved the new format Monday, effective in 2021. The final four teams in all four classes will play Thursday through Sunday with schedules to be determined. The 2021 girls finals will be held during the first weekend of March while the boys finals will be conducted the following week.
As a result of the format change, the IHSA will seek requests for proposals to host the state basketball finals for 2021 through 2023. The girls finals are now held at Redbird Arena in Normal while the boys finals are at Carver Arena of the Peoria Civic Center.
“There has been a great deal of support for this new tournament format over the past few months,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson in a release. “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 idea worth trying.”
Currently, the girls state finals are played over two weekends followed by the boys tournament over the following two weekends. That format will remain in place for the upcoming year. Illinois State University has hosted the girls finals since 1992 while Peoria will mark the 25th year of hosting the boys finals next March.
“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.”
Greg Halbleib can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.