Poor planning means tournament teams get snowed under

High Schools

January 03, 1991|By Mike Farabaugh

Last week's snow caused many headaches for area basketball tournament officials.

It never ceases to amaze that more area tournament committees do not build in snow contingencies. That would eliminate most of the frantic telephone calls, especially when the weather forecast is as ominous as last Thursday's.

Most handled the situation wisely. Some did not.

Consider the Baltimore County Invitational at Essex Community College. Some teams arrived and played the early games, but as soon as it was known that three Harford County teams would not have bus transportation, the games were postponed.

Don't blame the teams. Harford County buses have been known to sit idle under dry, but threatening partly cloudy skies.

At any rate, tourney officials rescheduled all postponed games and crowned four champions in the 16-team field.

A similar situation occurred on the west end of town for the Holly -N-Hoops tournament at UMBC. As soon as North Harford informed tournament officials it could not get bus transportation for its 7 p.m. game, tourney officials asked Severna Park and Seton Keough to move their 9 p.m. contest forward to the 7 p.m. slot. Seton Keough arrived despite hazardous driving conditions, but Severna Park was unable to post because its bus failed to arrive.

"We were asked to play the next day, but there was no guarantee the road conditions would be any better," said Seton Keough coach Trish Cook. "At the time, I was under the impression that Severna Park either would not or could not come back the next day. Then it was announced Severna Park had forfeited and we were the champions. The championship plaque was presented to me.

"I didn't care about that. I wanted to play, but I didn't want to return without my full team, and I had at least two starters that had made plans to go skiing."

Cook said the tournament committee must have gotten some flak for its decision, because she then was asked to play the contest this Saturday night.

"We will play St. Mary's in a big Catholic League game Friday [tomorrow] night," said Cook. "I didn't think it would be fair to play Severna Park the next night. We are going to play them Feb. 8, anyway. It's not as if we'll never meet."

Cook said the championship plaque will be returned.

"Just call it a snow-out," she said. "Severna Park doesn't deserve a forfeit. The game was never played."

Perhaps tourney officials can still resolve this problem by declaring the winner of the Feb. 8 contest the champion of its Hoops Division. That won't resolve the Holly Division title, however. North Harford and Southern-AA also were unable to agree on rescheduling their championship contest.

The situation that occurred in the Wes Unseld Classic at Catonsville Community College deserves a comment.

Woodlawn and Broadneck had their semifinal postponed. Both coaches agreed to play the next morning with the loser playing a consolation that same evening. Broadneck won and Woodlawn coach Rod Norris decided not to play the consolation.

The tourney committee made a bad decision, asking any team to play twice in the same day. But it did and Norris agreed. His subsequent decision not to play was a bad one.

Let it be clearly understood that Norris is a gentleman and a fierce competitor. His success and reputation are not in question here. But his decision not to play was unfair to Mount St. Joe, the team his Warriors should have played in the consolation round.

If anything, Norris should have put his second string on the floor and given St. Joe a game. The Gaels probably would have countered with their reserves much of the way.

Who would have won is not the issue. Playing would have benefited both teams. It would have offered a positive lesson in keeping an agreement.

That outweighs the mental and physical harm cited as a reason for not playing, after sustaining a heart-breaking overtime loss to Broadneck.

On the subject of commitment, a final word is in order. Teams should keep weather problems in mind when agreeing to play in a tournament. The tourney committee should make known all contingency plans in advance. At the very least, the day after the tourney is to end should be kept free for the possibility of making up postponed games.

Coaches, players and their parents should understand this and not make expensive reservations for a trip that cannot be delayed. It is unfair to the other teams in the tournament who are willing and able to keep their commitment.

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