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Central AM state trophy 3.9.19.jpg (copy)

The Central A&M basketball team raises the third place state trophy after defeating Concord Triopia at Carver Arena this season. More photos at herald-review.com

On Monday, the Illinois High School Association announced changes to the boys and girls state finals basketball format, beginning in 2021.

All four classes of the girls state finals will be held on a single weekend, spanning from Thursday to Saturday, and the boys finals will follow the same format the following weekend.

The girls basketball finals will be played March 4-6, 2021, with the same number of qualifying teams (4) and games played. The boys finals will be March 11-13, 2021. The exact number of games each day and game times will be finalized in the coming months, according to a press release from the IHSA.

Currently, the tournament takes up four weekends, beginning with Class 1A/2A girls (Feb. 22-23 this year) and Class 3A/4A girls (March 1-2) at Redbird Arena in Normal, then Class 1A/2A boys (March 8-9) and Class 3A/4A boys (March 15-16) at Carver Arena.

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“There has been a great deal of support for this new tournament format over the past few months,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson in a statement. “We tried to be as transparent as possible, communicating the idea and seeking feedback from basketball coaches and school administrators throughout the state in a variety of ways. It was fairly unanimous that most felt like it was idea worth trying.”

The format change comes in conjunction with the board voting to seek a request for proposals to host each of the state finals from 2021-2023. The boys finals are played at Carver Arena in Peoria and the girls finals are played at Redbird Arena in Normal.

“We obviously have great relationships with both venues and host communities,” Anderson said. “We fully expect both to bid once again, but believe it’s only fair to open up the process in conjunction with these format changes so that they can evaluate if and how it impacts them. We are not tied to any host format. We’d be open to having both tournaments at the same venue or continuing to have them in separate venues.”

Contact Patrick Engel at (217) 238-6856. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickEngel_

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Sports writer

I cover Eastern Illinois football and basketball, as well as Mattoon/Charleston prep sports, for the JG-T

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