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Greg Jones

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State finals
At Indiana State, Terre Haute
Class A: Canterbury (24-3) vs. Vincennes Rivet (22-4), 10:30 a.m.
Class 2A: Eastern (Greentown) (22-3) vs. Evansville Mater Dei (27-2), 12:45 p.m.
Class 3A: Hamilton Heights (23-2) vs. Mount Vernon (Fortville) (22-4), 6 p.m.
Class 4A: South Side (24-3) vs. Bedford North Lawrence (27-0), 8:15 p.m.

Door closed on girls finals returning to city in 2014

– One thing is certain regarding the location of next year’s girls basketball state finals: It won’t be in Fort Wayne.

Memorial Coliseum general manager Randy Brown confirmed Thursday that the Summit City facility is unavailable for the date in 2014 in March when the IHSAA annually holds its final games of the high school tournament.

So will it return to Terre Haute for a third straight year? With more confusion over the court at Indiana State, the inquiry at least deserves some discussion.

Last year, the Hulman Center was decked out in confusing lines because the longer court was shortened to 84 feet to accommodate high school specifications. Because of the confusion of a year ago, this year’s finals in the four classes will be played on a 94-foot court.

South Side will make its first trip to the finals Saturday, and Canterbury will be in its fifth state title game in the last six years.

Is it a big deal for the players to play on a longer court?

“Honestly, I don’t think so,” South Side’s Brittni Clopton said. “We have made conditioning a regular regimen, so we are used to running up and down the court.”

Terre Haute is playing host to the girls state games for a second straight year, and things like this keep coming up. The biggest complaint from Fort Wayne’s two-year stint as state finals host in 2010 and 2011 was that it’s too far away.

Fort Wayne has been in the bidding process the last two years, but Brown said he didn’t want to save the dates for 2014 with a lot of uncertainty whether the Coliseum will ever get a chance again to play host to the games.

“We have put in a couple of good bids the last couple of years, but there is other business, and I just couldn’t hold the dates without knowing we really had a chance,” Brown said. “We thought we had the best bid, and we thought we had the best facility. There were other things that came into play that someone underwrote the hotel costs (in Terre Haute), and I can appreciate that.”

Despite some smaller gaffes a year ago, including the bad tape job on the floor, the IHSAA gave Terre Haute a second chance this year to fix things. The solution, mainly because the Hulman Center has Indiana State women’s basketball games on the day before and after the state finals, was adequate but not relayed well.

And the Coliseum seems to be better equipped to handle the state finals, especially with the versatility of its courts. In the future, Fort Wayne could again put in a bid for the state finals.

“I can only speak to our facility here,” Brown said. “When we purchased our new court (eight or nine years ago), we took into account IHSAA events. When we created our specifications for the various floor suppliers to bid on, part of the criteria was being able to shorten the floor to the current IHSAA regulations.”

Greg Jones is the high school sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.