The 4A and 3A classifications are joining forces to stage the final four of their separate season-ending basketball tournaments June 24 and 25 at Marshfield and North Bend high schools.
The scheduling of the event helps keep alive a growing tradition for 3A, which has played its last 10 state tournaments at Marshfield and North Bend.
“Even our coaches and ADs out in eastern Oregon, everybody was pretty happy with keeping it there,” said Josh Grotting, the athletic director and girls basketball coach at 3A Sutherlin. “Especially because there are some really good seniors this year in 3A and we're trying to give those kids a little bit of normalcy to end this.”
The 3A and 4A teams will qualify through a quarterfinal round at home sites earlier in the culminating week, which begins June 21. The semifinals will be June 24 – with 3A at Marshfield, 4A at North Bend – and the finals will be June 25 at Marshfield. The third-place games will be June 25 at North Bend.
“We feel like we're going to get the four best teams at the final site,” Grotting said. “However it's recognized around the state, it is what it is. We just really want these kids to feel like it's a meaningful event.”
Marshfield athletic director Greg Mulkey said both communities are “thrilled to have an opportunity to not only continue to take care of the 3A classification, which we're very proud of being a host for, but then getting the opportunity to host the 4A classification, is just icing on the cake.
“I don't think we could ask for anything more. We're very excited, and we're going to do the best we can to make it have a state-tournament feel.”
The 4A classification, spearheaded by Mulkey, took the lead this year by staging season-ending showcase tournaments for team sports. It provided a blueprint for 3A, which began organizing its own showcase tournaments in Season 2.
Grotting, whose Sutherlin girls team was the 3A runner-up last year, said he got started early with planning for a season-ending basketball event.
“Greg Mulkey and I kind of talked through it,” Grotting said. “He still really wanted 3A to be there. I can't thank Greg enough for making it happen for us.”
Since those discussions started, 4A also decided to have its final four at Marshfield and North Bend. Since 2017, 4A has played its state tournaments at Forest Grove High School.
“Grants Pass was going to be an option,” Mulkey said. “We looked at a couple different options in the Portland area. But when we started the process two or three weeks ago, the metrics weren't favorable. We really thought Grants Pass was going to be a great venue, but it didn't work out with the date.”
Mulkey said he was concerned that 4A schools might balk at playing at Marshfield, where the Pirates could have a home-court advantage if they advance. But coaches in the 4A rankings committees assured him that it wouldn't be an issue.
“Our gym has a Hoosiers feel. It's a Butler fieldhouse-type venue,” Mulkey said.
The classifications will follow similar formats in determining their brackets.
In 4A, the eight-team bracket will be composed of the No. 1 team from each of its six districts and the two highest-ranked No. 2 teams, as determined by a committee. The committee's final ranking will seed the bracket.
In 3A, the Lewis and Clark League opted out of the tournament, except for three boys teams: De La Salle North Catholic, Portland Adventist and Westside Christian. So 3A will fill its bracket with the No.1 team from the other five leagues and three at-large teams, determined by a committee.
Grotting said that 3A could have chosen three No. 2 teams for the bracket, but that would have penalized teams in a deep league such as the PacWest Conference boys, which has Amity, Dayton and Yamhill-Carlton.
“They realistically might be three of the better teams in the state, and they're all in the same league,” Grotting said.
The 3A committee's final ranking also will be used for seeding. The panel will release updated rankings after meeting Sunday. Its final vote will be June 19.
The tournaments will use officials from the three closest associations to help save on costs. The gate receipts will go toward paying for officials.
The schools are hoping to create a state-tournament atmosphere.
“We're going to do a program that's top-notch,” Mulkey said. “We can't offer everything that we've done before just because of COVID issues, but we'll have a barbecue outside, and our concessions will be open.”
The summer weather also promises a different type of beach recreation experience for visiting teams and their fans than it would during a tournament in March.
“I've heard that people are already getting camp sites,” Mulkey said.