Once again, I'm proposing a change to the postseason format we use for high school basketball.
District tournaments, in this day and age, are almost obsolete. Most districts in the state are down to four teams — it isn't like the old days when districts had 10-12 schools and the tournament was a week-long party.
And not all districts are created equal. Some are much stronger than others, and I would make the argument that if we want the regional tournament to be a showcase for the best teams in the region, we come up with a format that allows more than two teams from the same district to advance to the next stage.
With that in mind, here is my idea, one for which I make an annual pitch.
In the 16-team First Region, with four teams in each of four districts, we continue to seed them as normal, with home-and-home, round-robin play.
The four top seeds will be seeded 1-4 in the 16-team regional field and will, as a reward, host a "district tournament." The four No. 2 seeds go in the 5-8 slots, with the rest of the region seeded 9-16.
Postseason rules apply, just as they do now. You win your first-round game and you're in the regional tournament. The second-round winners go into the regional tournament as "district champions" and meet a team that lost a second-round game in the regional quarterfinals.
Under the current format, the four top seeds are (in order of district) Fulton County, Paducah Tilghman, Graves County and Marshall County. For seeding purposes, I'm going to combine three power ratings services — the Louisville Courier-Journal's Litkenhous Ratings, the Lexington Herald-Leader's Cantrall Ratings and MaxPreps.com's Freeman Ratings.
Let's seed them this way:
1. Paducah Tilghman
2. Marshall County
3. Graves County
4. Fulton County
The four No. 2 seeds are (in order of district) Carlisle County, Heath, Ballard Memorial and Calloway County.
Let's seed them this way:
6. Ballard Memorial
7. Calloway County
8. Carlisle County
Now, the rest of the region:
9. St. Mary
11. Lone Oak
13. Fulton City
14. Hickman County
16. Community Christian
That gives us these "district tournament" matchups:
at Fulton County — Fulton County vs. Fulton City, Heath vs. Murray
at Paducah Tilghman — Paducah Tilghman vs. Community Christian, Carlisle County vs. St. Mary
at Graves County — Graves County vs. Hickman County, Ballard Memorial vs. Lone Oak
at Marshall County — Marshall County vs. Reidland, Calloway County vs. Mayfield
In all honesty, this format could give us the same eight teams we'll see for real at Murray State University's CFSB Center. The biggest changes will be reflected on the girls' side, and we'll look at that on Thursday.