Basketball section tournaments should expand to 12 teams
The boys basketball game between Corona del Sol and Mountain Pointe on Saturday night was one of the best postseason contests in years.
The Aztecs won, 66-65, in double overtime on a late 3-pointer by Bryan Siefker.
However, if Pride coach Aaron Windler had his way, the second-round Division I state tournament matchup would never have happened.
Mountain Pointe made the section tournament the week before and lost to Mesa by two points in the first round. Even though the Pride hung with one of the best teams in the state, it dropped in the power point rankings and was jumped by Marcos de Niza — a team which didn’t qualify for the eight-team sectional.
The Padres finished No. 15 in the state tournament seeding and Mountain Pointe was No. 16, which miffed Windler.
“Clearly, there is something wrong with the AIA’s rankings,” Windler told the Ahwatukee Foothills News. “If we had Ironwood and Chavez (Marcos’ two opponents) we’d still be playing.”
Windler’s point is well-founded, as teams who make a section tournament should not be penalized for losing to a top-notch opponent. Luckily, there’s an easy solution.
Instead of section tournaments being eight teams, they should be expanded to 12 with the top four seeds given a first-round bye.
That way, there would be first-round matchups between the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds, 7 and 10, and so on. The winner of those games would get the deserved power points boost and the rankings would shake out more accurately.
A 12-team section tournament would also give the lower-seeded teams a final chance at qualifying for the postseason.
As it stands, the top-8 teams from the better sections are going to garner at-large berths with or without a section tournament victory. But if it’s expanded to 12, it gives the teams outside the playoff picture a last-ditch effort at grabbing an automatic berth.
This new format would force those teams to win two games instead of one, but it would make the stretch run very interesting for almost every team in the state as they jockeyed to finish in the top-12.
Mesquite, for example, finished as the No. 10 seed in Division I, Section II this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. A 12-team sectional would have given the Wildcats a chance at qualifying.
It’s silly to see teams being penalized for making section tournaments and rewarded for missing them.
The addition of four teams would solve this problem and add more intrigue.