Thursday, February 17, 2005
Words such as confusing, complicated and up-in-the-air shouldn't be associated with the basketball postseason. But the changes made in Class 4A and the antiquated process still used in Class 2A have coaches trying their best to explain what will happen in the coming weeks.
"We're old school," Hayden boys coach Shawn Baumgartner said. "We still do it like in the 1950s. Everything is so pre-determined. It's not based on seedings or record or anything."
In other words, he's not a fan, but he may feel differently if the Tigers advance to the Class 2A state tournament at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.
Hayden and Soroco open postseason play Saturday with the first round of the District 5 tournament. The Soroco boys play top-seeded Rangely at 1 p.m. in Rangely. The Soroco girls play top-seeded Grand Valley at 1 p.m. in Parachute.
The Hayden boys and girls are No. 3 seeds and host games Saturday. The girls play Paonia at 1 p.m., and the boys play Plateau Valley at 2:30 p.m. Both games are at Hayden High School.
The winners of the first-round games advance to Hayden High School for the final weekend of district play Feb. 25 and 26. The top two teams from District 5 advance to a regional tournament to be held March 4 and 5 at Grand Junction High School. The Tigers appear to have an advantage because they will host two weekends of games -- should they win Saturday -- despite not being a top-two seed.
In Class 2A, district, regional and state tournament sites are set before the season starts. What Baumgartner doesn't necessarily agree with is the regional round. Two teams from District 3, which has only four 2A schools, automatically advance to regionals to face the top two teams from Hayden and Soroco's District 5. The top two regional finishers advance to the eight-team state field in Pueblo.
"Right now, we are a better district than the southern district, which I guess benefits us," Baumgartner said. "But I don't think we are getting the best teams to state. ... I don't care for the Class 4A or 5A, either, because there is no league tournament."
The Colorado High School Activities Association oversees postseason tournaments at all levels, and CHSAA made a commitment this season to change the makeup of the state field in 4A and 5A, the state's largest two classifications. Steamboat is a 4A school.
This year's tournament will have the feel of the NCAA Tournament. And much like the elation or dejection some college teams experience on "Selection Sunday," Sailors boys coach Kelly Meek is expecting some prep teams to be pleased or perturbed with their seeds Sunday afternoon.
The Steamboat boys likely will host games next weekend because they won the Western Slope League, but they aren't guaranteed a home match if the seeding committee designates two teams from another league as stronger.
"They kind of gave themselves a loophole," Meek said.
Should the Steamboat boys defeat Battle Mountain at 7:30 p.m. today at home and Eagle Valley at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the Sailors will have positioned themselves well by winning the league with a perfect record.
The Steamboat girls know they will travel, but their seed depends largely on how they do this weekend in their final regular-season games at Battle Mountain tonight and at Eagle Valley on Saturday.
Steamboat could finish as high as third behind Rifle and Moffat County.
Meek said the seeding committee will measure teams by record, league finish, strength of league, strength of overall schedule and record in the final 10 games. Steamboat's girls are on a four-game win streak, which includes a win against Rifle. The league is stronger top to bottom than in years past on the girls' side, and it is weaker on the boys' side.
Much like 2A, the top two teams from each of eight quadrants advances to pre-determined regional sites in Denver, Pueblo, Greeley and Colorado Springs for the Sweet 16. The Sailors don't know where they are seeded, so they have no idea where they are going, should they win in the first round.
But all roads lead to the Coors Events Center in Boulder, the site of the Class 5A and 4A Final Four. That's the easy part to explain. The hard part is getting there.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com