If the boys basketball schedule seems crammed and rushed in the coming weeks, there’s one simple reason.
The state tournament, originally set for Feb. 28-Mar. 5, has been moved up a week earlier. The Heide & Cook/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships are now scheduled for Feb. 21-26. The sites remain intact: Moanalua and McKinley in Division I, Kalani and Kaimuki in D-II, and Blaisdell Arena on championship finals night.
The HHSAA made the announcement to leagues earlier this week, citing the option taken by the host site to bump the tournament if and when another event is possible. Currently, the online Blaisdell Center calendar does not yet list an event for Mar. 5, the original date of the boys basketball state tournament championship games.
With one less week to prepare, the OIA regular season schedule remains unchanged. However, OIA Division I boys basketball playoff dates are now crunched into a five-day span that begins just two days after the regular season ends.
The regular season closes on Thursday, Feb. 10, followed by the opening round of the OIA D-I playoffs on Saturday (Feb. 12). The D-I quarterfinal round is on Monday (Feb. 14), followed by the semifinal round on Tuesday (Feb. 15) and the championship game on Wednesday (Feb. 16).
The original OIA boys hoops playoff dates were Wednesday (Feb. 16), Thursday (Feb. 17), Saturday (Feb. 19) and Wednesday (Feb. 23). That’s an eight-day span as opposed to five days.
The OIA D-II playoffs have a smaller field and slightly more cushion: Feb. 12, 14 and 16.
Playing three league playoff games in three days is uncommon these days. These are not, however, uncharted waters. Decades ago, the OIA playoffs were played four days in a row. Games hosted at school sites and the championship game at Blaisdell.
If and when rosters dwindle due to positive COVID test results (or exposure to the virus, triggering mandatory quarantines), the added burden will be significantly increased. There is the possibility of at least one boys basketball team wiped out of OIA playoffs and the state tournament because of protocols plus the unprecedented time crunch.
There is also the possibility of increased risk of exposure over a longer time frame — the better to play as many games as possible in a shorter time span.
“It’s unfortunate that the state date got moved at this time, but it couldn’t be helped,” OIA basketball coordinator John Chung said. “Throughout the past two years, I think we all learned to expect the unexpected. I think everybody from HHSAA to all the leagues are working together to do our best to keep our kids active. Adjustments are being made as needed.”
In the ILH, two regular-season games (Division III) have been affected, moved up earlier by a few days. The playoff tourney there, like the OIA, is in a time crunch. The ILH D-I regular season ends on Saturday, Feb. 12.
Monday, Feb. 14 is slated as a tiebreaker playoff date. Then the circus begins on Wednesday (Feb. 16), the first of FOUR consecutive playoff dates that will end on Saturday (Feb. 19).
Even funner, the ILH’s sixth- and seventh-place teams in D-I have a play-in game on Tuesday, Feb. 15. One of those teams could possibly play FIVE games in five days.
The good news for the ILH’s top two D-I finishers in the regular season is that they get byes until Thursday (Feb. 17).
In ILH D-II, the format includes all four D-III teams as usual. The opening round is on Tuesday (Feb. 15), followed by ensuing rounds on Thursday (Feb. 17) and Saturday (Feb. 19).
This is the way, the new normal. There is no other way unless the championship games are hosted at a school site. That was the case with the state football finals, which were hosted by Farrington at Skippa Diaz Stadium.