Beginning Another Tourney Journey

August 8, 2016

Below is the introductory commentary to the MHSAA's spring issue of benchmarks. Histories of MHSAA tournaments published in that issue have been appearing on Second Half every Tuesday and Friday. 

By Jack Roberts
MHSAA Executive Director

Concussions and cutbacks. Participation fees and part-time employment. Student safety and specialization. International students and interstate travel. Transfers and trials.

Through a myriad of issues which periodically cloud our mission, the foundation on which the MHSAA was built still shines brightest three times each year: Tournament Time!

It can be daunting and overwhelming to make a living at this business of interscholastic athletics these days, not to mention a tad confusing. Do we need legal degrees? Medical degrees? Business degrees? Marketing degrees? There seems to be no escape from threat of legislative mandates which continually change the landscape of our product and how it’s delivered. Demands pile up, resources dwindle.   

Add the daily challenges of scheduling issues, inclement weather and pleasing teenagers and their parents on a daily basis, and it’s easy to lose focus of the primary missions for the MHSAA and its member schools.

And then, scenes like this happen:

• Holly Bullough, a senior cross country runner from Traverse City St. Francis takes her second straight Division 3 championship, winning by 36.4 seconds ... with a stress fracture in her left foot.

• Detroit Martin Luther King QB Armani Posey directs a game-winning drive to give his school the Division 2 football championship ... a drive which started on his own 3-yard line with 37 seconds left and ended with a 40-yard heave to receiver Donnie Corley on the final play of the game.

• Leland sweeps the Class D volleyball title match 3-0 over Battle Creek St. Philip ... ending a string of nine straight titles for St. Phil, the 10th longest national streak in history.

• Davison’s Taylor Davis becomes only the fourth person in MHSAA Girls Bowling history to roll a 300 game in the Singles portion of the tournament ... and the first ever in the championship match.

• The Upper Peninsula’s Hancock HS wins the Division 3 ice hockey title in its first trip to the Final since 2000 ... a trip funded in part from a “Go Fund Me” web page that raised $6,620 from 99 donors in two days.

• Junior Kierra Fletcher of Warren Cousino carries her team to the Class A girls basketball championship with 27 points in the Final ... after scoring 37 of her team’s 60 points in the Semifinals and totaling 198 during eight tournament games.

That’s just a sampling of the magic from last fall and winter.

These moments shine through the current challenges and the unseen future that awaits us as they always have. The uniforms and faces are different, but the tournaments have always yielded the fruits of our labors, and the memories for our mental scrapbooks.

PHOTO: Leland's volleyball team hoists its Class D championship trophy last fall at Kellogg Arena. 

MHSAA Winter Sports Underway with 65,000 Athletes Beginning Competition

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 5, 2023

With the first girls basketball games, wrestling matches and ski races joining the event schedule this week, an estimated 65,000 athletes will be competing across the 13 sports for which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors postseason tournaments.

Girls basketball tipped off Monday, Dec. 4, and the first boys and girls wrestling meets may take place Wednesday, Dec. 6. The first girls and boys ski races may begin Saturday, Dec. 9, when they will join competition already underway in boys basketball, girls and boys bowling, girls competitive cheer, girls gymnastics, boys ice hockey, Upper Peninsula girls swimming & diving, and boys swimming & diving across both peninsulas.

The MHSAA winter schedule concludes this 2023-24 school year with the Girls Basketball Finals on March 23. This will be the first time since 2018-19 that the girls basketball tournament will finish the winter season, a switch made necessary by the start of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament March 22-23 and the possibility Michigan State University could host first-round games at the Breslin Center, where the MHSAA plays both its girls and boys basketball Semifinals and Finals.

Three more sports will incorporate changes this season related to MHSAA Tournament format or qualification.

For girls and boys bowling, Regionals will be conducted at eight sites – instead of the previous six – with each site qualifying to Finals its top two team finishers and the top seven singles for both girls and boys competitions. For the Team Bowling Finals, match play has been switched to a head-to-head, best-of-five Baker game format, whereas previously the format included regular games rolled by individual bowlers.

In girls gymnastics, an addition to criteria is expected to classify gymnasts more accurately as Division 1 (most skilled/experienced) or Division 2 for MHSAA Tournament individual competition. Athletes who have previously competed in a non-school event at either the Sapphire or Diamond Xcel levels would be required to compete at the Division 1 level for MHSAA postseason competition. These designations were added to other criteria used to determine an individual competitor’s division.

A change that led to much larger event fields at the Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals this fall is expected to produce the same at the LP Boys Swimming & Diving Finals this winter. Beginning this season, qualifying times have been determined based on the past five years of MHSAA race data, but also accounting for past numbers of qualifiers in each swim race – which should, as with the girls, allow for more boys to advance to the Finals in events where fields have not been full over the previous five seasons.

Additionally, the Competitive Cheer Finals will return to its traditional Friday-Saturday schedule, March 1-2 at McGuirk Arena at Central Michigan University, with Division 1 on Friday and Divisions 2-4 on Saturday.

This regular season, wrestlers have two more opportunities to compete. Teams are allowed two more dual meets (between two teams only, not to be converted into three or four-team meets), bringing the total allowed days of competition to 16 with no more than eight of those allowed for tournament-type events where a wrestler competes more than twice.

At those tournament-type events, wrestlers may now compete in up to six matches on one day of competition (as opposed to the previous five matches per day) – but an athlete may not wrestle in more than 10 matches over two consecutive days.

An adjustment to the awarding of free throws in basketball is likely to be the most noticeable in-game change for any winter sport this season. One-and-one free throws have been eliminated, and fouls no longer will be totaled per half. Instead, fouls are totaled and reset every quarter, and two free throws are awarded with the fifth foul of each quarter.

The 2023-24 Winter campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Swimming & Diving Finals on Feb. 17 and wraps up with the Girls Basketball Finals on March 23. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Boys Basketball
Districts – Feb. 26, 28, March 1
Regionals – March 5, 7
Quarterfinals – March 12
Semifinals – March 14-15
Finals – March 16

Girls Basketball
Districts – March 4, 6, 8
Regionals – March 11, 13
Quarterfinals – March 19
Semifinals – March 21-22
Finals – March 23

Regionals – Feb. 23-24
Finals – March 1-2

Competitive Cheer
Districts – Feb. 16-17
Regionals – Feb. 24
Finals – March 1-2

Regionals – March 2
Finals – March 8-9

Ice Hockey
Regionals – Feb. 19-28
Quarterfinals – March 2
Semifinals – March 7-8
Finals – March 9

Regionals – Feb. 12-16
Finals – Feb. 26

Swimming & Diving
Upper Peninsula Girls/Boys Finals – Feb. 17
Lower Peninsula Boys Diving Regionals – Feb. 29
Lower Peninsula Boys Finals – March 8-9

Wrestling – Team
Districts – Feb. 7-8
Regionals – Feb. 14
Finals – Feb. 23-24

Wrestling – Individual
Districts – Feb. 10
Boys Regionals – Feb. 17
Girls Regionals – Feb. 18
Finals – March 1-2

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.