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September 28, 2013

Fans may be target of new class basketball proposal

ANDERSON — The Indiana Basketball Coaches Association has come up with a new proposal for the state boys and girls basketball tournaments and the goal just may be fan interest.

Under the plan, the state's teams will be divided into three classes based on enrollment. There are many differences between this plan and the one currently in place beyond just the number of classes.

First, there is no attempt to keep the number of teams in each class the same or even similar in number. There will be fewer teams in 3A than in 2A or 1A. Secondly, those classes will be further divided into divisions, again based on size. Teams from the different divisions wouldn't play each other until the regional level.

Lapel's Jimmie Howell, who is a state championship-winning coach, the school's athletic director and a member the IHSAA Board of Directors, thinks the fans could be the target of this proposal.

"I think it is an attempt to recreate some excitement for the tournament," said Howell. "I think the tournament has lost a lot of interest over the years. I think the (proposed) setup is better than what we have now. I think it has a lot to do with trying to get more fans in the stands."

Last year's attendance was one of the lowest since the beginning of class basketball in 1998.

All but three of this area's schools would be in 1A. Anderson would be in 3A, the bottom division, while Pendleton Heights and Frankton would be in 2A, though in different divisions.

"I think there are some positives and some negatives, like most things," said Frankton boys basketball coach Brent Brobston, whose Eagles were just a last-second shot from winning back-to-back sectional titles at Lapel last season. "It will be interesting to see what discussions come out of this. I haven't decided for myself whether I favor it or not."

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