LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - After years of not hosting a varsity basketball tournament, Lufkin was excited to get one going this year. They will now have to wait another year.
“We were starting it this year with a grass roots effort locally,” head coach JT McManus said. “We had one but stopped. We did some updates to our facilities and thought now was a good time to get it going with the new gym being completed soon.”
The University Interscholastic League announced last week that all basketball tournaments were off for the year. That included the regional playoff tournaments, which decide the regional reps for the state tournament. According to the UIL website, the state tournament is still a go in March of 2021 for both the boys and girls. For the regular season teams will have 17 weeks to play a maximum of 27 games. Teams will be allowed to schedule three games a week. If games are back to back days they would have to take place on Friday and Saturday.
One of the bigger and more successful tournaments in East Texas is the holiday tournament in Tenaha.
“We were not shocked that this could happen,” Tenaha head basketball coach Greg Jenkins said. “We did have a good event planned this year. We had Tatum coming in which I think was the best one in the field. We had Atlanta coming in with their stud Daimion Collins. It was set to be great. I was also planning on taking our kids outside of East Texas to some strong tournaments and give them a chance to see places they had never seen.”
According to Jenkins, after tournament expenses, the district will make about $20,000 on their tournament. That money goes to the Tenaha ISD general fund. Jenkins believes the athletic department will come in under budget so that loss of revenue will not sting as bad as it could.
“We would put about 1,200-1,500 people in the stands on Saturday,” Jenkins said. “Even for our local economy we don’t see that traffic through Tenaha so we are going to miss that.”
Another key change is the end of the season. The District certification date for playoff seeding is being moved up to accommodate for the loss of the regional tournaments. It will allow for the semifinals and finals to be spread out across a week instead of two straight days at one location. For small schools like Tenaha it is not a big burden since they will not play basketball until they finish football. Since 4A-1A are on a normal schedule with football, Jenkins will have his team in time for a late December start.
With the football season being delayed for the bigger 5A and 6A schools like Lufkin this will give those schools less time to evaluate their sub-varsity teams as they prepare for a playoff run.
“Depending on how far Lufkin goes in the playoffs, our sophomores and freshman that play football and basketball both could be out of the gym until the middle of December,” McManus said. “The UIL acts like they want to have dual sport athletes but that make it tough in this situation. It could make kids feel forced to chose. Technically if our team goes three rounds in the playoffs they could have a 6 week basketball season.”
The basketball coaches are finalizing their 27 game schedule and now all that work could be for nothing so they are making sure their student-athletes know how important safe practices are at this time.
“They put LeBron and the league in a bubble,”Jenkins said. “If that doesn’t get these kids attention. For sure I am hopeful but we are going to be telling the kids up front that you better take advantage of every moment you get. With the unknown and the changes there is no telling what is going to happen.”
Below is key dates for the UIL boys and girls basketball seasons:
- October 21: Girls practice start
- October 31: Girls scrimmages allowed (max 2)
- November 6: Girls interschool games
- February 9: GIRLS DISTRICT CERTIFICATION – 17 weeks
- October 28: Boys practice start
- November 7: Boys scrimmages allowed (max 2)
- November 13: Boys interschool games
- February 16: BOYS DISTRICT CERTIFICATION – 17 weeks
1A: 3 Qualifiers from each district
2A-6A: 4 Qualifiers from each district
- February 11-13: Bi-District
- February 15-16: Area
- February 18-20: Quarterfinals
- February 22-23: Regional Semi-finals
- February 26-27: Regional Finals
- March 4-6: GIRLS STATE TOURNAMENT
- February 18-20: Bi-District
- February 22-23: Area
- February 25-27: Quarterfinals
- March 1-2: Regional Semi-finals
- March 4-6: Regional Finals
- March 11-13: BOYS STATE TOURNAMENT