David Adam

Connell: Time frame too short to move sectional game from Farmington

Posted: Feb. 26, 2018 8:10 am

QUINCY -- As soon as it was determined that Quincy Notre Dame and West Hancock were scheduled to play Tuesday in the Class 2A boys basketball sectional at Farmington, the howling started.

"Why is the IHSA going to make those teams travel to Farmington on a school night?' was the general refrain from the social media crowd.

Farmington is 22 miles east of Peoria, 90 miles from Hamilton and 120 miles from Quincy. It was selected months ago to be one of the eight host sites for a sectional tournament.

Moving the site of the semifinal is possible ... but not easy.

And in this case, it won't happen. QND athletic director Bill Connell confirmed that Sunday night.

"There's a lot more that goes into moving a game like this than the Average Joe would understand," he said.

According to the IHSA, four entities must agree to make a switch like this happen -- two participating teams, the school or facility that has agreed to be the new host and the original host.

When a school is asked to host a postseason tournament, it agrees to provide scorer's table personnel, security and concession supplies while handling other logistics to host the event. If the original host still wants to host the game and is prepared to host it, then any other discussion is moot.

After talking with boys basketball coach Kevin Meyer, Connell said he reached out Sunday to Brad Froman, principal at Warsaw High School (which combines with Hamilton High School to form the West Hancock co-op) to get his OK. He then called Kirk Gibson, associate executive director for the IHSA.

Connell said he never did make the call to Farmington.

"The length of time needed to find a third party was too short," he said. "A lot of pieces of the puzzle had to fall into place."

Connell said the only places that had been discussed as possible replacement hosts were Macomb and Central in Camp Point. Had a replacement host been settled on, Connell said finding all of the necessary people to handle the security, concessions, scorer's table and other positions for one night was going to be problematic.

"Let's say we play the game in Camp Point," he said. "I need to find someone from the police or a sheriff's deputy, and usually that's pretty hard to do just 48 hours in advance."

Other local postseason games have been moved before for travel reasons. The Unity-Liberty boys basketball sectional semifinal game was moved from Brimfield to Camp Point in 2014. The Quincy High School soccer team played in a couple of postseason games that were moved from Normal to the St. Louis area.

"Some sports are easier to move than others," Connell said. "I would say soccer is easy, but basketball is not."

The time frame, Connell added, made it even more difficult.

"Folks have big hearts, and I understand they don't want to drive that far," he said. "Would I like to move the game? Certainly. I also could spend a lot of time on this, and just one thing could make it go south. It's not worth the 200 phone calls needed to make it happen in a short time.

"After 22 years of being an athletic director, common sense tells me that the best place to play this game is in Farmington."