Obert: Arizona high school basketball should get rid of sectionals, open up state tournament

Obert: Arizona high school basketball should get rid of sectionals, open up state tournament

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Obert: Arizona high school basketball should get rid of sectionals, open up state tournament

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Maybe it’s time to open up the state in each division and allow everybody to play for a state boys basketball championship.

Or at least make the number of teams something everybody can agree on.

In Division I, there are 49 teams. Make the cutoff 32 teams. That means No. 32 Chandler Hamilton would open the state tournament against No. 1 Tempe Corona del Sol.

In Division II, there are 76 teams. Hold a 64-team state tournament with No. 64 Maricopa taking on No. 1 Phoenix Shadow Mountain in the opener.

Make the regular season a battle for playoff seeding with seeds based on strength of schedule. And lose the sectional tournaments.

It can work.

Related: Boys state tournament brackets

You reduce the regular season to two games a week for each team, instead of three. You start the playoffs earlier.

That will cut out complaints that are getting louder each year about sectional tournaments.

Paradise Valley has a right to complain. It has a No. 8 seed in Division II, after losing only two games, both against Division II opponent Shadow Mountain. But a sectional championship loss prevented Paradise Valley a top-seven seed, because only the seven sectional champions got automatic seeds, 1-through-7.

Meanwhile, Yuma Gila Ridge went from a 45-seed during the regular season to a No. 7 seed and earned a bye into Saturday’s second round with a home court against either Phoenix Arcadia or Cave Creek Cactus Shadows. That’s because Gila Ridge won Section 7, which has only six teams.

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Avondale La Joya went from a 19-seed to a 6 after beating Avondale Agua Fria for the sectional title.

I’m sure the Arizona Interscholastic Association could still find a way to make money holding the tournament on neutral sites.

Imagine if it were all held at one place, where games go from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., the kind of gate it would get.

And, you never know, a Cinderella could emerge.

It would raise the excitement level that is getting lost at sectionals, where coaches’ main concerns are pre-state tournament injuries and losses that could end up punishing them in the seedings despite putting together an impressive regular-season resume.

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