CLAA basketball tournament draw up last-gasp shot
After week’s delay, abridged event set to resume Monday
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
TINA — Like a basketball coach drawing up a plan to attempt a game-winning shot in the final seconds, officials of the Carroll-Livingston Activity Association and host Tina-Avalon School have drawn up what they hope will be a plan to prevent the tournament – and its financial impact – from being obliterated by Mother Nature for a second time in three years.
The conference tournament, played to completion – at least as far as determining girls’ and boys’ champions – without fail for decades and decades prior to 2019’s submission to ferocious late-winter weather, hopes to avoid a similar fate this year by wedging an abridged version into this final week of the 2020-21 regular season for Class 1 schools (which all CLAA member schools are in basketball).
With some district tournaments involving conference schools already set to tip off next Saturday, the decision this past Tuesday to scrap all attempts to play any games this week while the region copes with the potent combination of the aftermath of the most-significant series of snowfalls to date this winter with extreme – in some instances, record-breaking – cold weather in favor of a truncated, essentially-single-elimination format was about the only viable option.
To that end, as reflected in the accompanying graphic of the revised tournament bracket, all consolation-bracket games were eliminated. Only the losers of next Wednesday’s championship semifinals will get a chance to play after being defeated.
With the 9-teams tourney’s first-round (play-in) games having been completed Saturday, Feb. 6, this coming Monday and Tuesday will find the eight quarterfinal-round games played a week later than originally planned.
Those winners then will compete Wednesday in the championship semifinals, followed Thursday night by the first- and third-place games for each gender.
Presumably, if something prevents any night’s games from taking place, the revised schedule does offer one night of “wiggle room.” Anything beyond that likely effectively will prevent the tourney from being completed, since all nine schools have either girls’ or boys’ teams slated to begin district-tournament play next Saturday, Feb. 20.
While the respective No. 1 seeds Southwest Livingston (boys) and Norborne (girls) appear to have clear advantages in seeking to repeat their 2020 crowns, the COVID-19 “wild card” and other factors could increase their vulnerability.