This year’s AHSAA basketball and wrestling postseason will have a different format, including changes in sites, following approval by the association’s Central Board of Control Wednesday.
In basketball, the area tournaments will be split up with the top two seeds hosting semifinal games instead of all the games being at the top seed as is tradition. In a four-team area, the No. 1 seed will host the No. 4 seed, while the No. 2 seed will host the No. 3 seed.
In case of a five-team area, the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds will play at the No. 4 seed with the winner advancing to play at the No. 1 seed.
The area tournament semifinal winners will advance to the tournament championship game at the site of the highest remaining seed, either No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3.
The motion was created to maximize the total crowd potential and eliminate the need to “clear out” the gym in between games, according to the AHSAA Winters Sports Rules Modifications release.
In addition, the regional semifinal round, because of attendance limitations at regional sites, has been moved from the tournament venue to campus home gyms. In essence, a second sub-regional round has replaced the regional semifinals.
The host school for that sub-regional round, in the Class 1A-6A tournaments, will be based off travel from the first sub-regional round similar to the football playoffs. If one team traveled in the first sub-regional and the other didn’t, the team that traveled will host the second sub-regional game. If both traveled or neither traveled, then the host site will the team on top of the bracket.
Class 7A teams, including potentially Enterprise and Dothan in the Wiregrass, will go straight from the area tournament championship to the second sub-region round, skipping the first sub-regional. Area tournament winners will host runner-ups.
In all classes, the winners of the sub-regional games advance to the regional tournament championship round – in the case of Wiregrass teams up in Montgomery.
The initial plan was for the Southeast Regional finals to be at Garrett Coliseum and the Southwest Regional finals at Alabama State. However, AHSAA spokesperson Ron Ingram said Alabama State has declined to host the tournament because of COVID concerns and now both regionals are scheduled at Garrett.
Postseason dates approved
Dates of the postseason schedule were also approved and announced by the Central Board, though the schedule could change if COVID-19 issues warranted it. The schedule will change for the regional tournament following Alabama State’s decision not to host.
The area tournament play-in games between No. 4 and No. 5 seeds at the No. 4 seed’s gym for both girls and boys are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8. The girls area tournament semifinals are the next night on Feb. 9 and the boys area semifinals Wednesday, Feb. 10, both at the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.
The girls area finals are set for Friday, Feb. 12 and the boys the next night on Saturday, Feb. 13, both at the site of the highest remaining seed.
The girls sub-regional rounds for Class 1A-6A are Monday, Feb. 15 and the boys the following night on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Both are to be played at home sites of one of the participating institution based off travel or who is on top of the bracket.
The 1A-6A girls regional semifinals plus the 7A girls semifinals are Thursday, Feb. 18 at home sites and the boys regional semifinals in the same classes are Friday, Feb. 19.
For now, the regional finals are split up over four days from Monday, Feb. 22 through Thursday, Feb. 25 with only four games being played each day. However, the schedule for Wiregrass teams in Montgomery is unknown right now following Alabama State’s decision not to host and forcing Garrett to host two regionals.
State Finals schedule
Changes were also made for the state finals, which is scheduled to open the day after the regional finals and run eight days from Friday, Feb. 26 through Saturday, March 6 with Sunday being an off day. The schedule is provided there are no other changes because of COVID issues.
The action on each day, for now, features four games and starts at 9 a.m., with the other games at 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
With renovations going on at BJCC Legacy Arena, the traditional home of the state finals, this year’s state tournament will be at two other Birmingham facilities. The Class 1A-5A state semifinals/finals will be held at Bill Harris Arena with Class 6A and 7A games at UAB’s Bartow Arena.
For now, the state tourney is slated to open on Friday, Feb. 26 with Class 4A girls and boys semifinals – two games in each – at Bill Harris Arena. The Class 5A semifinals take the floor at Bill Harris on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Play resumes on Monday, March 1 with action at both Bill Harris and UAB. The Class 3A semifinals take place at Bill Harris while the Class 6A semifinals are at UAB. A similar schedule is set the next day on Tuesday, March 2 with Class 1A at Bill Harris and 7A at UAB.
On March 3, the first championships take place at UAB as Class 6A girls and boys and Class 7A girls and boys hold their finals. The same day, Class 2A has semifinal games at Bill Harris.
The state tournament – as well as the entire basketball season – ends on March 4-6 with Class 4A and 5A finals on Thursday the 4th, the Class 3A and 1A title games on Friday the 5th and Class 2A on Saturday, March 6.
Attendance to be limited
Attendance, because of COVID-19 restrictions, will be limited at regional tournament gyms and at the two Birmingham state finals sites.
Seating capacity is currently set at 20 percent of maximum or limited by the site.
According to Wednesday’s AHSAA release, capacity for Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum, including media, team members and support personnel, is at 1,700 per game.
At Bill Harris Arena, the seating capacity restriction is listed at 1,000, while UAB has a 1,200 limit.
All tickets for the regional and state finals must be purchased through GoFan’s digital ticketing system.
The AHSAA Central Board of Control also made changes to the upcoming traditional postseason in wrestling, eliminating the Super Sectional meets and pushing wrestlers straight to championships at three sites over two weekends.
The sites will be at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum, Birmingham’s Bill Harris Arena and Huntsville’s Von Braun Center. The 1A-4A championships are at Garrett Coliseum on Feb. 12-13 and the Class 7A Championship the same days, but at Bill Harris Arena. The Class 5A-6A championships are the following week on Feb. 18-20 in Huntsville.
The Class 1A-4A event will feature a 16-man bracket, using current seeding criteria minus the total matches to place 16 wrestlers in each weight class. The Class 5A-6A tournament will feature a 32-man bracket and Class 7A will have a 16-man bracket for its weight classes.
For seeding purposes, the minimum number of matches for an individual has been reduced from 15 to five and matches for seeding will be counted through Jan. 30. Any matches after that date will not be counted. Wrestlers must have a .250 minimum record to be seeded instead of .500. All other seeding criteria will remain the same.
The top four finishers in Class 1A-4A and Class 7A will receive medals with the top six placing. Six will receive medals in Class 5A-6A with the top eight placing.