Conference tournament ends


Ashley Sokolowski

Basketball guard Javon Smith will play in the final tournament.

Tommy Parker, Sports Co-Editor

Maryland’s junior college athletic directors have decided to discontinue the end-of-season basketball conference championship tournament after the March 2019 games.

Men’s and women’s basketball champions for the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference—or JUCO—have always been the winners of an end-of-season tournament, but the 2018-2019 competition will end that tradition.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” said Men’s Basketball coach Joe Snowden. “You like to have that tournament.”

Basketball was the only Maryland JUCO sport that used an end-of-season conference tournament to choose a top team. In other sports, the winner of the regular season is the conference champion.

Going forward, the team with the best regular-season record will become the conference champion—the same way every other JUCO sport decides its winners. Starting with the 2019-2020 season, the best regular-season Maryland JUCO team will earn a spot at the regional JUCO championship tournament.

The change will make the road to regionals different for community college basketball teams than it is for Division I squads. In the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the winner of each conference tournament receives an automatic bid to the national tournament.

Maryland JUCO basketball teams did not earn “an automatic bid [to the regional tournament] or anything,” said Women’s Basketball coach Lonnie Makell. “[The state tournament] could be three extra games at the end of the season to tune up for the regional tournament.”

The seeding for the conference tournament is determined by each team’s regular season record.

“I’d rather have everyone play,” said second-year forward Clinton Smith. “[In the tournament] the underdogs can upset the top seeds.”

Athletics Director Duane Herr said part of the reasoning behind ending the state tournament was a desire to treat all teams [equally]. Basketball is the only team with a Maryland conference championship.

The final state tournament will start on Friday, March 1, at Hagerstown Community College.