Venue crunch to bring state basketball to Mariucci

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2012 - 10:16 PM

The next five seasons of boys' and girls' basketball state tournament play gives traveling an entirely new context.

On Thursday, the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors approved scheduling changes for both tournaments to cope with a facilities crunch from 2014 to 2018.

The boys' tournament will be held ahead of the girls' tournament in 2014, '15 and '16. Boys' games still will be played at Target Center and Williams Arena while the girls' games could be played at Target Center, Williams Arena and, for the first time, Mariucci Arena.

The changes likely will require girls' tournament games on Tuesday, a day earlier than both tournaments start now.

In 2017 and '18, the girls' tournament again would be played first, likely starting with Tuesday games at Target Center and continuing Wednesday through Saturday at Mariucci and Williams Arenas.

The sports will change their season start dates to coincide with the tournament schedule.

The board action stems from scheduling conflicts at Target Center beginning in March 2014, when the National Collegiate Hockey Conference starts using the arena for its postseason tournament. The NCHC has a five-year contract with the Target Center.

Hopkins girls' coach Brian Cosgriff and Columbia Heights boys' coach Willie Braziel said the league's action made the best of a tough situation.

Another option, playing quarterfinal games at various sites and then bringing four teams in each class to Minneapolis for semifinals and championships, was discouraged by boys' basketball coaches association executive secretary Tom Critchley, who addressed the board on Thursday.

"They can play the championship game at midnight in Loring Park," Cosgriff said. "As long as my team is in it, I don't care."

Braziel said he was concerned about starting the next three seasons a week sooner and the conflict it would present for football players whose teams reach the Prep Bowl.

Legal cases pending

The board met in closed session, citing attorney-client privilege, for more than one hour to discuss items identified in the meeting agenda as pending litigation involving "school membership'' and "student eligibility.''

The membership case stems from a suit last fall by Prairie Seeds Academy, seeking to overturn the league's decision to disqualify the charter school from the state soccer tournament because it used an ineligible player. A judge rejected the request.

Laura Tubbs Booth, an attorney for Prairie Seeds, said the lawsuit "is going to be resolved shortly." Tubbs Booth, who attended the board meeting but was not in the closed session, said she expects the league "will provide corrective action, and the school is in the process of taking action, so there are no eligibility questions in the future."

The student eligibility case involves a federal lawsuit filed by a Lakeville North student who transferred from Holy Angels Academy but was not allowed to participate in varsity athletics. Such closed sessions are rare for the high school league. A league official declined to comment after the session.

Clay target tournament tie-in

The league will be the presenting partner of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League state tournament. The motion passed by a 9-8 vote. The tournament takes place in June.

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