By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The introduction of limited seeding at the District level for girls and boys basketball, and a shift in the postseason schedule for ice hockey, are among changes that will be noticed most this season by those who compete in and follow the 12 winter sports for which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors postseason tournaments.
Girls basketball’s first games tipped off Dec. 2, followed by boys basketball openers Dec. 9. This winter, for the first time, the top two teams in every basketball District will be seeded and placed on the opposite sides of their bracket, making the District Final the earliest round they could play each other. Those top-seeded teams will be determined using the Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) computer formula based on regular-season results against other MHSAA Tournament-eligible teams and opponents’ strength of schedule. (Games against out-of-state or non-MHSAA opponents will not count in the MPR formula.)
The MHSAA will draw all brackets 15 days before the start of District play. After the top seeds are determined and separated to opposite sides of the bracket, the draw process will place the remaining teams on the bracket based on a randomly-selected order determined earlier in the season. MPR also was used to similarly seed Districts for boys soccer for the first time this past fall and in the spring for boys lacrosse.
Also undergoing a change this winter, the MHSAA Ice Hockey Tournament will be played over three weeks rather than two as in previous seasons. The traditional dates for the start of the regular season and Finals will remain the same, as will the total number of regular-season games allowed. However, the MHSAA Tournament will begin on the third Monday before the Finals instead of two weeks before, and the extended postseason schedule places the maximum of six games that may be played from the start of Regionals through Finals over 20 days instead of the previous 13.
While those changes will affect tournament structures, a handful of others affecting daily competition will be particularly noticeable as well this winter:
• As with Lower Peninsula girls swimming & diving season in the fall, a pair of changes for LP boys and Upper Peninsula girls will take effect this winter. For swimmers, the definition of a legal finish has changed to include a competitor touching any part of the finish end of the lane, not just the touch pad. In diving, the degree of difficulty was adjusted for back and reverse somersaults to provide consistency with difficulty of other dives.
• In hockey, the allowed stick length for a non-goaltender has been extended to 65 inches with a blade no more than 12.5 inches long and between 2-3 inches high. The allowances for a goaltender’s stick also were adjusted – the widened portion up to 28 inches from the heel and to 3.5 inches in width, with a blade at maximum 15.5 inches in length. These changes were made to accommodate the greater average height of today’s athletes.
• In girls competitive cheer, non-braced static inversions will be allowed only with the following stipulations: the original base or spotter maintains constant contact with the flyer, prior to the static inverted position the flyer must originate from below shoulder level, and the inversion must dismount to the cheering surface, cradle, any waist-level position or a non-inverted stunt at shoulder level. Also, twists from inversions and inversions released to extended level are illegal.
• A new rule in wrestling will allow for additional time to evaluate head and neck injuries. If an injury occurs involving the head, neck, cervical column and/or nervous system and an appropriate health care professional is present, that caregiver may request the traditional 90 seconds of injury time be extended up to a maximum of five minutes to evaluate the injury. Before that time expires, the wrestler must be ready and able to continue the match or it will be defaulted.
• Also for wrestling, a new criteria has been added to the tie-breaking system used when a dual meet finishes in a tied score. The new sixth criteria “f” states that the team giving up the fewest forfeits during a match shall be declared the winner.
The 2019-20 Winter campaign culminates with postseason tournaments beginning with Girls & Boys Skiing Regionals on Feb. 10, and wraps up with the Boys Basketball Finals on March 28. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:
Districts – March 2, 4 & 6
Regionals – March 10 & 12
Quarterfinals – March 17
Semifinals – March 19-20
Finals – March 21
Districts – March 9, 11 & 13
Regionals – March 16 & 18
Quarterfinals – March 24
Semifinals – March 26-27
Finals – March 28
Girls & Boys Bowling
Team Regionals – Feb. 28
Singles Regionals – Feb. 29
Team Finals – March 6
Singles Finals – March 7
Girls Competitive Cheer
Districts – Feb. 21-22
Regionals – Feb. 29
Finals: March 6-7
Regionals – March 7
Team Finals – March 13
Individual Finals – March 14
Regionals – Feb. 24-March 4
Quarterfinals – March 7
Semifinals – March 12-13
Finals – March 14
Girls and Boys Skiing
Regionals – Feb. 10-14
Finals – Feb. 24
Girls & Boys Swimming & Diving
U.P. Girls & Boys Finals – Feb. 15
L.P. Boys Diving Qualification Meets – March 5
L.P. Boys Finals – March 13-14
Team Districts – Feb. 12-13
Individual Districts – Feb. 15
Team Regionals – Feb. 19
Individual Regionals – Feb. 22
Team Quarterfinals – Feb. 28
Team Semifinals & Finals – Feb. 29
Individual Finals – March 6-7
To provide for the convenience and safety of spectators attending the Michigan High School Athletic Association 11-Player Football Finals on Nov. 25 and 26 at Ford Field in Detroit, attendees are being advised of a variety of items related to transportation and security – including policies regarding parking, seating and types of bags allowed into the stadium.
Parking will be available in Ford Field facilities and lots to the east and north of the stadium and costs $8. A map identifying the designated Ford Field lots (4, 5 and 6) and parking deck can be found on the Football page under “Tracking the Tournament.” (There also are a number of privately-operated parking facilities close to Ford Field, but their pricing may differ.)
Fans also are advised that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Ford Field parking facilities and lots, and smoking – including use of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers – is prohibited inside the stadium. Tailgating, including the setting up and use of grilling equipment, also is not allowed.
Tickets are priced at $20 and allow a fan to see all four games in a single day. Tickets are available for purchase at the door (cash or credit accepted), from participating schools, or online from Ford Field via Ticketmaster – links to order tickets both days also are on the MHSAA Website football page. Spectators leaving the stadium will be required to purchase another ticket for re-entry. Infants able to be held in arms will be admitted without charge for this event. There will not be a public Will Call window.
Spectators may enter Ford Field at Gates A & B. Upon arrival in the building, fans will find their designated seating areas on the South side of the field if their team is the designated home team for their contest and on the North side for the designated visiting team. Home teams this weekend are Belleville, Warren De La Salle Collegiate, Mason, Harper Woods, Corunna, Almont, Jackson Lumen Christi and Ottawa Lake Whiteford. Brightly-lit video boards above the seating areas will display the names of the participating teams each day, and fans should sit on the side of the stadium where they see their school’s name. For general fans, the entire lower bowl of Ford Field will be open for the event.
Security measures also will be in place to help assure spectator safety. Fans will be subject to metal detector screening, and Ford Field personnel reserve the right to request patrons open their coats, bags and other item-carrying vessels for visual inspection and deny entrance to individuals who do not cooperate. Spectators should remove cell phones, cameras, keys and other large metal objects before passing through the metal detectors.
Items which fans will be prohibited from bringing into the building include, but are not limited to, the following:
* Purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, book bags, diaper bags, fanny packs, cinch bags, grocery & paper bags; duffle bags, computer bags or luggage of any kind.
* Aerosol cans (hairspray, mace, pepper spray, etc.)
* Animals (except service animals to aid guests with disabilities)
* Balloons (air or helium)
* Balls (beach balls, footballs, etc.)
* Banners or large flags
* Cameras with lenses longer than five inches or any detachable lens. Selfie Sticks also are prohibited.
* Chairs including folding chairs or stools
* Decals, stickers, confetti or glitter
* Drones and/or remote-controlled aircraft
* Electronic equipment including laptop computers, video recorders (hand-held video cameras are allowed), tripods and wearable video cameras including Go Pros.
* Food, beverages – including water – or liquids (cans, bottles, boxes, flasks, etc.)
* Illegal substances
* Knives, pocketknives, box cutters, scissors, etc.
* Laser pointers
* Marijuana including medically prescribed electronic accessories or paraphernalia associated with marijuana or illegal narcotics use.
* Markers (permanent) and/or paint
* Noisemaking devices (bells, horns, kazoos, whistles, etc.)
* Objects that can be used as missiles or projectiles (sticks, poles, bats, clubs, Frisbees, etc.)
* Strollers and infant car seats or carriers
* Umbrellas (large size)
* Wrapped gifts
The following items may be permitted after inspection:
* Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches, or a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc or similar). An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at the Gate.
* Infant items in a clear bag (bottles and formula) only if accompanied by a child
* Binoculars and binoculars cases not exceeding 4½ inches by 6½ inches may be brought in via one of the clear plastic bag options.
* Cameras (lenses may not measure longer than five inches or be detachable, and no tripods or extension cords)
* Small radios (no larger than the size of a football and used with an earpiece)
* Small, compact umbrellas (must be placed securely under seat)
* Posters and signs without poles or sticks, or larger than what one person can hold.
* Tablets (iPads, Kindles, etc.)
* Seat cushions not exceeding 15 inches by 15 inches. Seat cushions also must not contain arm rests, zippers, pockets, flaps or metal backs.
The complete list of prohibited items can be found on the Detroit Lions website. Prohibited items that are discovered during security inspections at stadium entrances must be returned to the owner's vehicle or discarded. Items will not be held for later pickup.
Fans are reminded that all image taking (still and video) may be only for personal, non-commercial use.
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.