There's no denying that Friday was a special and memorable night for the likes of Frankfort, Traverse City St. Francis, Kalkaska, Bellaire, Suttons Bay, Harbor Springs, McBain and Manistee.
Those players, their coaches and fans were able to experience the thrill of winning a district title. Trophies were hoisted, pictures taken and hugs exchanged. Dreams were realized. All are hoping its the first part of the postseason puzzle to the ultimate goal — a state title.
But I can't help but feel like the entire night — and even the entire week, plus the one to follow for boys districts, for that matter — could've been so much better.
The one thing the MHSAA could do to make the thrilling state tournament the best it can be?
Start seeding the districts.
It's unfortunate that the luck of the draw — or lack thereof — caused the marquee matchup in the area's Class A district between Marquette and Traverse City West to be played on Monday, the opening night of the tournament. That's the most glaring case for teams from this region, but there are similar instances all across the state.
The Williamston-Haslett game featured a pair of ranked teams in Class B to start that Lansing-area district, as an added example. In each of those cases, a team that had earned the right to play more than just one postseason game — and had both the talent and the vision to make some noise in the tournament — was sent home early.
The district tournament should be a build-up of tension throughout the week, with Friday's championship game being the culmination. A "save the best for last" philosophy. The way teams are slotted now is a little like having dessert for the first course of a meal.
That's not to say you would always get the two best teams meeting in the championship game by seeding teams. After all, upsets do occur. That's kind of the trademark of March. But seeding would at least provide the opportunity to pit the best teams in the biggest game. In the cases mentioned above, a blind draw removed the possibility altogether.
Reading a report earlier this week, it said the MHSAA has had discussions on changing the way it matches up teams. A lot of coaches and administrators like the idea of seeding, some others see good and bad aspects. The big stumbling block, obviously, is how to work out the logistics of determining the seeds. Do athletic directors or coaches meet and try to come up with a consensus on who gets each seed and risk hearing grumbling from coaches that presume they're being slighted or short-changed? Are computers and formulas involved? Should re-seeding be done at the regional or state levels?
I have to be believe there are enough reasonable, intelligent people in educational athletics across the state to develop a suitable way to get it done with the least amount of friction. It's a matter of sitting down and hatching a viable plan that surely would improve the basketball postseason.
Athletes are asked every day to be the best they can be. It seems like the same should be demanded for the tournaments in which they're playing.