HELENA — In 2020, the Class C boys and girls state basketball tournaments will run concurrently at the same site for the first time in classification history.
The University of Montana will host the tournaments, with the original schedule slating the dates for March 12-14, 2020. However, Class C officials have requested expanding the tournaments to four days, to include March 11, and the Montana High School Association has approved that request, pending facility availability. The executive board took final action on its June conference call.
Historically, Montana’s state basketball tournaments have run over three days, with the first rounds taking place on Thursday and the tournament concluding on Saturday with the consolation final and championship. Class C, though, has had success at district and divisional tournaments extending the format to include Wednesday games. That schedule eases the burden on teams and officials, relaxing the schedule to more easily accommodate the busy slate of games. Under the four-day format, one gender plays its four first-round games on Wednesday, while the other gender plays its four first-round games on Thursday. The tournaments are staggered such that both consolation finals and championships will be played on Saturday.
The Class B tournaments operated under a four-day schedule in March, through no fault of their own. The tournaments were originally scheduled to be played at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse at Montana State University, but the Big Sky Conference adjusted its schedule, ultimately creating an availability conflict at MSU. The MHSA moved the Class B tournaments to the Belgrade Special Events Center and added the Wednesday schedule of games to accommodate the smaller facility.
If UM has the available facilities, Class C will be the first classification to intentionally expand its tournament to four days, and other classes have taken notice. Class A administrators plan to closely monitor the Class C tournaments to determine the future feasibility for their own state tournaments.
Class A combined its state tournaments to one site for the first time this past year, playing the boys and girls tournaments at Great Falls over three days.
In 2020, all four classifications will hold combined tournaments: Class AA at Bozeman, Class A at Billings, Class B at Butte and Class C at Missoula. As of now, those tournaments are scheduled for March 12-14, 2020.
Other notes from the MHSA executive board’s June conference call:
- The board approved relocating the 2020 Class AA/C state track and field meets to Missoula. The meets were originally awarded to Helena, but officials turned back the event over facility concerns.
- The 2020 Class A state tennis meet will be in Billings.
- Class AA was approved to extend its tennis season by one week, playing its divisional and state tournaments one week later.
- The Southern B division will hold nine-team divisional tournaments in boys and girls basketball, as well as volleyball. The Southern B division includes three districts in those sports, while the Northern B and Western B divisions are each made up of only two districts.
- Class AA will add divisional volleyball tournaments beginning in the fall of 2020. The classification has added divisional tournaments in boys and girls basketball and softball in recent years.
- The MHSA executive board approved a seeding change for the 6-Man football playoffs. The North, which consists of 10 teams, will take five teams to the playoffs, while the six-team West will take only three. The North’s fifth seed takes the place of the West’s No. 4 seed on the bracket. The South and East will each have four playoff teams.
- Like last year, the 8-Man football playoffs will again include five teams from the North and only three teams from the South. The East and West will each have four playoff teams.