BLOOMINGTON — While it is still finalizing exactly what the new schedule will look like, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced Monday at its June board of directors meeting the State Final format for both girls and boys basketball will be changing beginning in 2021.
All four classes will play the same extended weekend — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — at the same site. For girls basketball, the 2021 IHSA State Finals will be held March 4-6; for boys basketball, it will be March 11-13. Each class will continue to send four teams to state, but the number of games played each day has not been finalized, according to the IHSA.
The IHSA's current format, which has extended the state basketball finals across four consecutive weekends — Class 1A and 2A girls one week, Class 3A and 4A girls the next week, Class 1A and 2A boys the following week, and 3A and 4A boys the fourth weekend — has drawn increased criticism and lower attendance in recent years.
A possibility under the new format might be to have Saturdays filled with nothing but the four championship games. That could follow Thursday semifinals and Friday third-place games and might sharpen interest as opposed to the current month-long format with every Saturday featuring alternating third-place and state championship games.
"There has been a great deal of support for this new tournament format over the past few months ..." IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said. "It was fairly unanimous that most felt like it was (an) idea worth trying."
The altered end-of-postseason dates would alter regional and sectional schedules for Class 1A and 2A girls basketball (pushed back a week) and Class 3A and 4A boys hoops (pushed ahead a week).
The next IHSA State Finals in March of 2020 will still be played under the current system.