The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

NMAA dropping final four teams in basketball, baseball


June 3, 2017

CLOVIS — The playoff fields for state basketball and baseball teams are soon to be smaller.

The New Mexico Activities Association will pare the tournament fields from 16 teams to 12, following a vote in Wednesday’s board meeting. The changes will go into effect in the 2018-19 season.

“It was mostly cutting costs and travel and missed school time,” NMAA Associate Director Dusty Young said. “That was the charge (the board) gave our classification and alignment committee, and that is a recommendation from the committee. They agreed it would help with those two things.”

While Young acknowledged the top-four/bottom-four games are frequently blowouts, he said that had little, if any, bearing on the decision.

Under the 16-team bracket format, the NMAA has scheduled tournaments with the higher seeds hosting first-round games and neutral-site games in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho for the final three rounds.

Football (Classes 3A-6A), soccer and volleyball already have 12-team state tournament fields. Top-four seeds get first-round byes in soccer and football. Football sites are determined by seeding in the first two rounds and playoff history in the semifinals and finals. Soccer awards higher seeds home games in the first round and further rounds at a neutral site. All volleyball tournament qualifiers come to Rio Rancho, and first-round byes are awarded to pool-play winners.

Young said it’s still up in the air how baseball and basketball will handle 12-team brackets.

Clovis girls basketball coach Jeff Reed has been on both sides of the coin with the Wildcats — as the No. 13 seed in 2016, No. 3 seed in 2011, No. 2 seed in 2012 and No. 1 seed in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The top seed won all six by an average of 41 points, with margins between 26 and 52 points.

Reed says despite the blowouts, the 13-16 seeds offer two incentives. Lower teams, he said, can make a late push and make the playoffs, and higher teams can help their title chances with an opening game they can win while still resting key players.

“I think it hurts the top seeds,” Reed said. “You’re not playing, not getting in the flow. Plus you’re playing a tougher team first (the 8-9 matchup winner) than you are playing the 16. Even though you get that bye, you’re going to be playing a tougher team to start.”

Reed questions reducing the playoff berths from 16 to 12 at the same time it’s reducing the number of classifications from six to five. The 2018 state boys and girls basketball tournaments will feature 192 teams, and the 2019 tournaments will have 120.

Reed also doesn’t believe one game will put a dent in travel budgets, but Young countered first-round games are often the biggest trips.

“It may just be one game in basketball,” Young said. “In baseball, it’s two or potentially three games, and sometimes those 1-16 matchups are a team traveling from one corner to another.”


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