OHSAA girls basketball state tournament moving to UD Arena

Dayton gets semifinals and finals for three-year run starting in 2021

UD Arena will host the Ohio state girls basketball tournament semifinals and championship games March 11-13, 2021, and on dates to be announced in 2022 and 2023, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday.

There are four divisions in Ohio girls basketball. A total of 12 games in each of those three seasons will be played at UD Arena. The four championship games held in Columbus at the Schottenstein Center in 2019 averaged 3,110 fans.

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“We are very excited to sign a three-year agreement for our member schools to experience UD Arena,” said Jerry Snodgrass, executive director of the OHSAA in a press release. “Southwest Ohio loves and supports basketball, and the people at the University of Dayton have made it clear that they really want this state tournament on their campus. We believe that we have found a great home for the girls basketball state tournament.”

According to the OHSAA, a limited number of dates available at the Schottenstein Center and St. John Arena in March in the next three years made the move to Dayton necessary. The boys tournament will be played at St. John Arena in 2021, and that tournament currently does not have a site for 2022 or future years.

The three-year renovation of UD Arena wrapped up in 2019, and UD hoped to host more events to show off the new-look building. It is scheduled to host the final three rounds of The Basketball Tournament, a $2 million winner-takes-all event, this summer.

“As we were going through the process of the renovation, we were thinking of potential other events,” UD Arena Director Scott DeBolt said. “We’ve had a longstanding relationship with the OHSAA and the Southwest District, hosting sectional and district and this past year, we got a chance to host two days worth of boys regionals. They came to us with a potential opportunity, and we said we’d look at it and it came to be.”

The NCAA tournament begins in Dayton every year with the First Four, and it’s scheduled to be played March 16-17 next year.

“That was the biggest thing, just looking at the dates they had,” DeBolt said. “They were waiting to get their final approval on their dates for 2022 and 2023 and what we had already on the books with the NCAA with the First Four and the men’s final home games and those kind of things and when they are. They all seemed to fit, and it seemed like a good partnership. We’re excited for it.”

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UD Arena annually hosts games in the earlier rounds of the tournament. The Division II boys regional tournament was scheduled to be played there this season before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the postponement of the games and then their cancellation. The D-III and D-IV boys regional semifinals did get played at UD Arena, but the finals were cancelled. District boys championship games have long been held at the arena.

There were also girls regional games played at UD Arena in 1996 and 1997.

This will be the first time the girls championships have been held at UD Arena, and it will be the fourth different venue that has hosted the girls tournament.

The girls tournament was played at the Schottenstein Center from 2000 through 2019, with the exception of 2005 when it was played at St. John Arena. The 2020 tournament was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic but would have been played at the St. John Arena.

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St. John Arena hosted the games from 1976-99 with the exception of 1986, when they were played at the University of Akron. That same year the boys tournament moved to UD because Ohio State scheduled its graduation ceremony on a date when the OHSAA wanted to hold the games.

UD Arena also hosted the boys semifinals and finals in 1987 when Dayton Dunbar won the Class AAA championship by beating Canton McKinley 70-65.

Dayton Jefferson reached the Class A state championship game both years the boys tournament was held at UD Arena. It lost 72-58 to Columbus Wehrle in 1986 and 71-64 to Columbus St. Francis DeSales in 1987.

One other local boys team reached the finals when they were played in Dayton. Greenon lost 74-70 to Oberlin in 1986 in the Class AA final.

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