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March 28, 2014

Girls state finals leaving Terre Haute

Basketball tournament returning to Indy in 2015

TERRE HAUTE — The IHSAA and city of Terre Haute are still on excellent terms, insists Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Dave Patterson.

But that didn’t keep the girls basketball state finals from returning to Indianapolis in 2015 after a three-year stint with Terre Haute’s Hulman Center serving as the host venue.

IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox announced Friday that the four-class state finals will return to Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse next season. The IHSAA Executive Committee unanimously approved the move during Friday morning’s monthly meeting.

After the meeting, Cox called Patterson to inform him of the news.

“I think it’s best for the sport, quite frankly,” Patterson told the Tribune-Star. “I think it’s great that the IHSAA allows high school student-athletes to play in world-class venues like Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“That being said, I’m going to tell you that our local group did a fantastic job of raising the bar for girls basketball. I’m proud of our effort. I think we did a great job. I think the teams appreciated all the things we did in allowing them to have a great experience here. I hope that momentum continues for the girls, even though it’s going to be in Indianapolis.”

Patterson estimated the state-finals attendance figures in Hulman Center were approximately 10,000 in 2012, 12,000 in 2013 and 10,000 in 2014.

As for the future, the IHSAA reached a one-year agreement with Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the four state championship games to be played at the downtown venue March 7, 2015. The WNBA’s Indiana Fever and the NBA’s Indiana Pacers are presenting sponsors for the girls and boys basketball state tournaments.

For the last six years, Bankers Life Fieldhouse has hosted the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament on the same date as the IHSAA girls basketball state finals. Therefore, the girls state finals were played at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2009, at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne in 2010 and 2011 and at Hulman Center for the last three years.

“The IHSAA is extremely pleased that the girls basketball state finals will return to Indianapolis and Bankers Life Fieldhouse next year,” Cox said in a news release emailed to media outlets. “At the same time, we are very appreciative and grateful for the time and effort that our hosts in Terre Haute have put forth to make the events memorable for the participating schools and fans involved.”

On a related note, at its annual meeting May 5, the IHSAA Board of Directors will weigh a proposal put forth by the commissioner on behalf of the Northern Lakes Conference principals that would move up the start of the entire girls basketball season by one week from the start of practice all the way through the state finals.

The move would eliminate any overlap of the girls basketball state finals and the boys basketball sectionals and would become effective with the 2015-16 school year.

Meanwhile, Patterson can reflect on a fun three years of big-time girls basketball that took place in Terre Haute.

“I think the IHSAA did a fantastic job [with its decision making],” he concluded. “I know that sounds crazy, but we had a great three years. I’m very proud of what we had and I think it’ll lead to other things.”

 

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