S.D. basketball, volleyball heading for ‘Sweet 16’

By Dana Hess
For the S.D. Newspaper
PIERRE – Major changes are planned for the way boys’ and girls’ high school basketball and volleyball tournaments are held in South Dakota. On Tuesday, the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors approved the first reading of “Sweet 16” formats for all classes of basketball and volleyball.
Throughout the Sweet 16 discussions, a rift was apparent between East River and West River schools. Most East River schools approved of the new format while West River schools tended to testify against it, citing extra travel.
During the discussion of a Sweet 16 format for Class B – Class A already uses that format – Timber Lake Superintendent Dan Martin told the board “more travel time equates to loss of educational time.”
Martin noted that with 84 schools in Class B, eight quality teams always make it to the state tournament.
In Class A and Class B, tournaments would decide the top two teams in each region. The remaining 16 teams would be seeded for games with the eight winners going to the state tournament.
Avon Superintendent Tom Culver said he believes “the majority of basketball fans would like to see a change in the way we qualify” teams for the state tournament.
As for the lost revenue, Hanson School District Superintendent James Bridge said schools would find a way to replace it.
“That’s what South Dakota does,” Bridge said. “They figure out how to do it.”
The Sweet 16 format for Class B was approved on an 8-1 vote with Morford dissenting.
Sweet 16 formats were also approved for volleyball. The tournament changes will return to the SDHSAA agenda in June for a second reading.
Handbook changes like the ones considered Tuesday get their start in an advisory committee. Then they are voted on by the state’s athletic directors before making their way to the SDHSAA board for final action.
The Class AA Sweet 16 proposal had a 7-0 vote in the advisory council and an athletic director vote of 10-8.
The motion to adopt a Sweet 16 format in Class AA passed on a vote of 6-3. Casting the dissenting votes were Uttermark, Steve Morford of Spearfish and David Planteen of Langford.

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