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Division I Basketball Tourney Adopts New Final Four Format

Whether the new format for the Division I girls state basketball tournament is here to stay will be decided in time, but the arrangement does address one concern, according to longtime Campbell athletic director Sam Delos Reyes.

“For me, in all the years I’ve been an athletic administrator, I’ve heard yearly about all leagues having an opportunity to be a host,” he said. “Every conference champion – in the MIL, BIIF, ILH and OIA – will be hosting. That’s a positive thing.”

The tournament previously had been a four-day affair at one site for 12 teams, but it now will cover two weeks with regional sites on three neighbor islands feeding into a Final Four, which will be played on Oahu.

The new format was voted in unanimously at the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association’s annual conference by its executive board, following the recommendation of state athletic directors. (The boys state volleyball tournament also try it out next spring.)

The league champions from the Big Island, Maui and Oahu interscholastic federations and the ILH would still have a first-round bye and qualify to host a regional tournament, which would consist of a single game Friday, with the winner advancing to face the regional host the next day. The four regional winners would then advance to the Final Four.

Kapolei head girls basketball coach Jim Aronica likes the new format, but has some concerns. “I’m all for trying new things,” said Aronica. “It’s oneand-done, which I like – and I like the Final Four format. It also would give you more rest and practice time if you were to keep advancing. By the same token, I have concerns: travel time and money, which are big factors.”

Added Delos Reyes: “The format is a great idea. Next summer, after the pilot year is done, we’ll meet again and look at the issues each league might have. Financially, the new format should cut expenses in half for those who don’t go on (further in the tournament). It addresses some financial concerns that we had. But we have concerns we need to agree upon.”

Among the challenges for tournament administrators would be selecting sites and seeding. After the top four regional hosts are determined – and seeded one through four – the last eight teams in the tournament field also would have to be seeded.

“One concern is, where do you put the first-round games?” Delos Reyes said. “Do you use a neutral site, or do you allow a winner to stay home (at their own facility) and play and generate more income (through the gate receipt)? All of this should be discussed and worked out.”

Delos Reyes also acknowledged the OIA’s stake in the new arrangement and how it may affect member schools.

“We have the most representation,” he pointed out. The OIA currently receives six bids to the Division I state tournament.

HHSAA executive director Chris Chun also had proposed that all 12-team state tournaments change in format from four rounds in four days on one site to a two-week tournament that includes four regional sites (on three islands) and a Final Four to be played out on the following weekend.

A vote by a group of athletic directors on day one of the HIADA conference saw the proposal fail by a vote of 17 for and 20 against with one abstention. The proposal then was amended to include only the Division I state tournaments for girls basketball and boys volleyball on a one-year trial basis, and passed through the same committee, 21 to 15.