A road map to the state title game

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 16, 2008

While football playoff games get tricky at times &8212; deciding which team plays which and where &8212; high school gridiron playoffs don&8217;t hold a candle to the long road to Birmingham that is the Alabama High School Athletic Association&8217;s basketball playoff system. A little rusty on the setup myself, I decided to do a quick perusal of the rules governing the state playoffs to clear up the haze on how teams make their way to the Magic City. Here is what I found.

I found it all begins at the area tournament. Areas consist of three to six teams, and for a group to qualify for the season ending tournament they must play every team in their area in two regular season games. Seeding for the tournaments are based on the win-loss percentage of each team in their games against other groups in the area, and if two teams play more than twice prior to the tournament the first two match ups between the schools are the ones that count.

If there are ties in the records, tie breakers begin from the top of the standings and analyze the tied team&8217;s records against the highest ranked team under them both &8212; continuing down the board until a tiebreaker is found. The No. 1 seed hosts their area tournament unless their facilities don&8217;t meet standards, which then moves the venue to the No. 2 seed and so forth.

Area tourney must take place on Feb. 5, 8 and 11 for boys and Feb. 4, 7 and 9 for girls &8212; with the finals played on the final days no matter the area size. All tourneys must be single elimination.

The two top teams from each area then move to pre-decided match ups with other areas in the sub-regional games. The games take place on Feb. 14 for girls and Feb. 15 for boys. The area winners play at home, while runners up travel to their opponent&8217;s courts for the game.

From these sub-regionals emerge four teams from each of the four regions in the state &8212; Black Belt teams will be from either the Central or South sub-regional groups.

Teams emerging from the sub-regional games then move to the regional tournament. For players in the South sub-regional, the tournament will be at Troy University in Troy, while the Central sub-regional teams will travel to Alabama State University in Montgomery. The games will be held Feb. 18-23 and culminate with one of four teams from every region winning the single elimination bracket and moving on to the state finals for their class.

The finals will be held in Birmingham at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center on Feb. 26-March 1. The four teams from each region will play a single elimination bracket with

between regions rotated each year.

So to win the state championship, a team must win five strait games following their area tournaments, traveling to at least two different venues over a 26-day period following the regular season&8217;s culmination. Can you say daunting task? But I guess a state championship wouldn&8217;t be coveted if it wasn&8217;t so difficult to attain.

Brandon Glover is the sports editor of The Times. He can be reached at brandon.glover@demopolistimes.com.