Proctor believes Final Four format is way to go

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 2, 2010

JACKSON — Dr. Ennis Proctor has heard the grumbles from several fans and coaches about the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s new playoff format for basketball.

Three of the state’s top boys teams did not advance to their respective state tournaments after being upset in the North and South State Tournaments. The list includes Vicksburg, which lost to Starkville 84-67 in the North State Class 6A Tournament in Starkville. The list also includes Wingfield, which was 30-0 before losing at Meridian, and 3A’s top team, S.V. Marshall of Tchula, which lost at North State on Holly Springs’ home floor.

“What happened to Wingfield was pretty bad,” said Yazoo City coach Archie Carlyle. “It’s something that needs to be looked at. For 30 years there was the consolation game where you had that second chance. Now there’s not one.” Carlyle’s Lady Indians won the 4A title last year, but were beaten in the Friday night elimination game at the North State 4A girls tournament.

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Proctor, the MHSAA’s executive director, said he doesn’t expect a change back to a six-team format for all six classes. The state tournament continues its nine-day run this week at the Mississippi Coliseum with the championship games set to begin Thursday.

“I really like having the Final Four format,” Proctor said. “For us to go back to a six-team state tournament will be difficult because of the added time and cost from arena availability, to more missed school time for our student athletes.”

Still, he has heard enough complaints from coaches to look into possible improvements.

“Of course, we will have our executive committee look at it,” Proctor said. “You know basketball coaches care only about basketball. There is more to it than just that. We have take in a lot of other factors, like statewide testing. Also there is the students and their classroom work. To go back to six teams, you’re looking at more than two weeks for a state tournament. So anything we do, we are going to have that in mind.”

One area Proctor would like to look into is the competitive balance of the North and South State Tournaments. The executive director said he wants to study Alabama High School Athletic Association’s regional tournament setup.

“Since we’ve gone to this Final Four setup, the Alabama structure for their regionals interests me.  I know Steve Savarese (the new AHSAA executive director). So I want to look into that,” Proctor said.

In Alabama, the top 16 teams from each class go to a regional format similar to the NCAA Tournament and it is a win-or-go-home format. The primary benefit is that all games are played at neutral regional sites, generally on college campuses such as South Alabama, Jacksonville State and Troy.

Contact Jeff Byrd at