JONESBORO — The Arkansas Activities Association has pushed regional and state high school basketball tournaments back one week, allowing time for regular-season games and district tournaments to be rescheduled in the wake of recent winter storms.
Five district tournaments involving area teams had been canceled as of Thursday. All five have since been rescheduled for this week following Friday’s announcement by the AAA.
Regional tournament dates in 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A are now March 3-6. State tournaments are scheduled March 8-15 in 1A, 2A, 3A and 5A and March 9-13 in 4A and 6A. The state finals in Hot Springs are set for March 18-20.
Executive director Lance Taylor said the AAA had to resolve several issues, among them securing the facility for the state finals, before reaching the point Friday where it could announce the delay for regional and state tournaments.
“We didn’t know if we could pull it off, to tell you the truth,” Taylor said Friday. “It’s not ideal probably. We wish we could have played this week and moved on like normal, but we couldn’t. You always have to be able to change in our world because of weather, but also the pandemic.”
The top four teams in district tournaments advance to regional play in classes 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A. The top four in the 5A-East tournament advance to the state tournament.
Rather than reschedule regular-season games lost to COVID-19 quarantines and winter weather, 5A-East conference schools voted to push the start of their league tournament back a few days after the AAA announcement.
First-round girls’ games in the 5A-East are scheduled for Thursday, followed by first-round boys’ games on Friday. All games will be hosted by the higher seed, with championship games set for March 3-4.
“There are some schools that aren’t even sure that they’ll be back in school Monday with the weather and there are so many missed games, we wouldn’t be able to get them all in,” Jonesboro athletic director Trey Harding said. “We’re just going to push the conference tournament to Thursday. That way, it gives teams a chance to travel and prepare for state.”
Harding said that with the original tournament schedule, the 5A-East winner would have faced a quick turnaround before playing in the state tournament. “That wasn’t too fair either,” he said. “I don’t know if there is a right way to do it. Everybody needs to remember that at one time we said we’d be just happy to play.”
The delay allowed Jonesboro (16-3) and Blytheville (22-2) to set up a regular-season boys’ game Monday night on the Chickasaws’ home court. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
The 4A-3 tournament will begin Monday with the higher seeds hosting first-round games. Fifth-seeded Pocahontas will host eighth-seeded Westside and sixth-seeded Highland will host seventh-seeded Trumann in the boys’ tournament. In the girls’ division, fifth-seeded Westside will host eighth-seeded Blytheville and sixth-seeded Trumann will host seventh-seeded Highland.
Semifinals and finals in the 4A-3 tournament will be played Thursday and Friday.
Westside athletic director Freddy Bowen said he was elated his school’s teams will have an opportunity to compete in the postseason. “It will give our kids an opportunity to finish, at least give them a chance to play,” he said. “It’s good for the kids, especially those who are seniors.”
Some regular-season games will be played Monday in the 3A-3 before that tournament begins Tuesday.
First-round games in 2A-2 will be played Monday, while the 2A-3 tournament will start Thursday. The 1A-3 tournament will resume Wednesday.