Flip-flop for 2018-2019: State high school boys, girls basketball seasons to switch start, end dates for one season

Negaunee’s Trent Bell goes high for a layup over Manton’s Wyatt Baker during their Class C quarterfinal game played at Petoskey High School on March 21. The Miners just missed out on a chance at playing in the MHSAA semifinals, which will flip-flop dates with girls basketball next season. (James Gensterblum photo)

What’s going to happen:

• Boys basketball season to start immediately after Thanksgiving weekend in 2018-19, girls season to start a week later, a switch from the usual girls starting first

• Boys finals to be played a week earlier than girls in March 2019

• This may affect schools with football teams that advance far in the MHSAA playoffs, as it did to Ishpeming for several years earlier this decade, when the start of Hematites boys basketball season was postponed after runs to the state football championship game

• This was brought about because of the unavailability of Michigan State University’s Breslin Center for traditional boys finals dates in 2018-19; girls not affected due to a move to a new venue

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EAST LANSING — A subtle but potentially significant change in high school basketball schedules will take place next school year, according to a news release from the MHSAA.

For the 2018-19 year only, the boys and girls seasons will switch their staggered schedules.

Since the girls season moved to the winter a decade ago, the entire girls season runs a week earlier than the boys in all facets, from opening practices to first dates of games to postseason tournaments that end in the state championship weekend.

But because of scheduling issues at the boys finals venue, they will flip-flop for the 2018-19 season.

Michigan State University’s Breslin Center won’t be available during the traditional boys championship weekend so that the MSU women’s basketball program would be able to host the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

The MHSAA cites the Breslin Center as the only available arena in Michigan large enough to host the crowds for the boys semifinals and finals.

Because the Breslin is available a week earlier, the MHSAA’s Representative Council voted on Dec. 1 to move the boys finals to that weekend. That also moves up the rest of the season schedule for boys basketball.

The girls semifinals and finals are moving this March to Van Noord Arena at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, and won’t be affected by the issues at MSU.

The council voted to go with the earlier boys finals, which moves the start of the season to the Monday after Thanksgiving. For 2018-19, the girls season will start one week later than the boys, also moving district tournaments a week later than the boys.

The move could potentially cause problems for boys basketball teams at schools whose football teams go far into the playoffs, not giving them much of a turnaround time.

In seasons that Ishpeming went to the state football finals in the past several years, the Hematites postponed most or all of their December boys basketball schedules.

The Representative Council was also told that the scheduling issues at Michigan State won’t affect the 2019-20 season, so they’ll move back to their traditional dates then.

“Although it is not our preference to change schedules of events that continue to run smoothly, switching girls and boys schedules in this way allows us to keep the current tournament format and traditions that help make these two of our most popular finals every school year,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said in a news release. “This will keep the boys at the venue most capable of hosting them and the girls at a venue we’re excited to move to this season.”

In the meantime, the MHSAA said it will be looking into other options during the next year.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.