Separate prep boys, girls basketball tourneys to return

Football wasn’t the only sport that got a playoff-related makeover on the final day of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s annual convention.

LHSAA member principals voted to return basketball to separate boys and girls state tournaments starting in 2013-14 during Friday’s general business meeting held at the Crowne Plaza.

The LHSAA went to a format that combined its boys and girls tournaments in 2011-12 and will use it again this spring. Under the current format, teams play in combined regional tournaments at three sites before advancing to a combined finals tourney.

“My only thing with the basketball tournaments is I’d like to have more data on it,” LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson said. “We’ve only done this one year.

“As far as the staff is concerned, it’s easier to run two tournaments instead of four. We’re good with that. We didn’t have an objection to this.”

This year’s regional tournaments will be held in March 1-2 at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, the Lake Charles Civic Center and the Bossier City’s Century-Link Arena. The University of Louisiana at Monroe is the site of the finals tourney scheduled for March 8-9.

The basketball vote came before LHSAA principals made history by voting to divide the football championships based on select and nonselect school designations.

Along with considering items on a 29-page agenda, the LHSAA principals also approved the executive committee’s choices to be the organization’s new leaders. Ouachita’s Todd Guice is the new president, while Terrebonne’s Graham Douglas is the new vice president.

Though some other notable items passed, the select/nonselect proposal was the only lightning-rod-type issue approved. Several other potentially controversial items were rejected.

For example, a proposal by two member principals that would have increased the number of 19-year-olds eligible to compete by changing the cutoff date for eligibility was defeated soundly without a number count needed.

A proposal presented by the executive committee would have limited participation by seventh and eighth-grade students at schools in the top four enrollment-based classes. The propsal was designed to limit safety risks for younger athletes.

Though it was amended to include just the top three classes, it ultimately failed when the final vote was taken.

Also rejected was a proposal by five principals that would have allowed nonfaculty head coaches in boys and girls basketball for the organization’s smallest classes, 1A, B and C.

Denham Springs High Principal Kelly Jones’ proposal to allow baseball coaches a one-week preseason evalulation period which would include no more than 20 hours of practice time was approved by a 173-140 vote.

Proposals by Broadmoor High Principal Dary Glueck for football and wrestling also were approved.

Glueck’s football plan allows schools to scrimmage another opponent at the end of its 10-day spring practice instead of having an intrasquad scrimmage.

Glueck argued that the move allows teams with smaller rosters the chance to scrimmage a similar opponent.

The wrestling proposal increases the number of interscholastic meets a student can participate in during a week. Principals voted to allow competition in two dual meets and a tournament or one tri-meet and one tournament during a week. Students would also be allowed to participate in two tournaments in a week when school is not in session.

Several soccer, tennis and golf related proposals also were approved. One golf-related proposal would allow the LHSAA to use nine-hole scores to determine a winning team if the 18-hole final day of the state tournament is shorted by weather-related issues.

One of the soccer proposals that was approved eliminates a jamboree and limits teams to two preseason scrimmages. Teams also would be allowed to schedule 19 games and three tournaments and 18 games and four tournaments. Also, in 2015-16, soccer will be divided into three equal enrollment-based divisions based on the total number of teams competing.

A tennis proposals to divide competing schools into four equal enrollment-based divisions starting in 2013-14 also was approved.