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2A-6 basketball players deserve own district tourney

According to the Carlisle High School basketball schedule, tonight are the finals of the 2A-6 district tournament at Hazen High School. However, that is not the case and it’s not fair to the junior high athletes from Carlisle, Hazen, Des Arc, Brinkley, Hughes, Marvell, Clarendon and Palestine-Wheatley.

Coaches in the conference voted to hold separate district tournaments for junior high and senior high for the first time since the original 2A-6 conference was formed prior to the 2006-07 season. There is a clause in the “constitution” of the conference that only administrators in the conference can change things in the “constitution,” which includes how the district tournaments are held.

Apparently, some administrators didn’t like what the conference coaches decided to do, allowing the junior high athletes to have their own tournament. (Carlisle’s administrators were in support of the Bison coaches).

What it boils down to is that both the junior high and senior high tournaments will be played at Hughes. It was first thought that they would still have separate tournaments, just being held at Hughes. But, as I said earlier, that’s not the case.

Senior high tournaments place the top two teams in the semifinals. That way they are already qualified for the regional tournaments, which start Feb. 20. And with the way that the 2A-6 does it, the junior high teams are seeded the exact same way.

This makes absolutely no sense. The district tournament is the final step for a junior high season. There are eight teams in the 2A-6, except in junior girls because Marvell forfeited its season.

What should happen is a straight eight-team tournament — 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5 in first round games. Then have semifinals and a championship game. That way, the first- and second-place teams aren’t cheated out of games.

Through some research of all the conferences from Class 1A through 4A, there is only one other conference — one in Class 3A — that has the junior high and senior high tournaments played at the same time. And with that conference, it makes sense because there are only five teams. However, only five teams in a conference is a travesty in itself but that is another topic for another day.

As anyone can see, it’s not fair to these seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade athletes to be cheated out of games. At the same time, its possible for some coaches to move ninth-graders up to the high school team. Three years ago, in the first round of the regional tournament, the Carlisle Lady Bison were the district champions but lost to fourth seed Bigelow, which was comprised of a bunch of ninth-graders. That ended Carlisle’s season one game short of an appearance in the state tournament at Bison Arena in 2010.

I sure hope Augusta and McCrory, which are playing in a different conference this year after being in the 2A-6 for six seasons, are enjoying their junior high district tournaments this week because they are now playing in a conference that understands what is right and just for athletes involved.

Mark Buffalo is the editor of the Carlisle Indepenent. E-mail him at mbuffalo@carlisleindependent.com

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