No one was more excited to hear the news of the Ohio high school girls basketball state tournament moving to UD Arena than Dayton Flyers women’s basketball coach Shauna Green.
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“It’s absolutely huge,” Green said. “Huge for girls basketball and for Dayton women’s basketball. Our administration has worked so hard to make UD Arena one of the best basketball arenas in the country. I think it’s going to be an awesome opportunity showcase that. To have some of the top high school players in the state playing on your home floor three years in a row is really really big.”
The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday the state final four will take place at UD Arena from March 11-13, 2021, and on dates to be determined in 2022 and 2023. Except for one year in Akron, the games have been held exclusively in Columbus, first at St. John Arena and then mostly at the Schottenstein Center in the last two decades.
Limited availability of the Schottenstein Center and St. John Arena forced the OHSAA to look elsewhere. That’s a plus for Dayton-area teams who could be playing for a state championship close to home.
“I think it’s great, especially if we could get there,” said Beavercreek coach Ed Zink, whose program won state titles in 1995, 2001 and 2003. “It’s a great place to play. The fans are great. It’s a little bit closer for us to go watch even if we’re not in it.”
Lakota West coach Andy Fishman, whose program won a state championship in 2015 and appeared in the final four in 2008 and 2009, called UD Arena a great venue for basketball and knows UD will do a good job hosting the event. At the same time, it will take some time to get used to the concept because there’s a lot of history behind the tournament being held in Columbus.
“That’s where all the state championships have been played for years,” Fishman said, “From that perspective, it would be a little bit different.”
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Shawnee girls coach Kari Kitchen experienced the state tournament as a player at Southeastern in 1999 at St. John Arena and saw her sister Katie help lead the Trojans back to state in 2002 when the tournament was held at the Schottenstein Center.
"Playing at Ohio State in Columbus is a great opportunity," Kitchen said, "We always talked about, 'We're going to Columbus! We're going to Columbus!' But a little bit selfishly here, UD Arena is much closer for us to attend all the games, and I was excited because what I noticed from when I was at St. John and then I watched my sister at the Schott and then having gone back to the Schott, I just never really believed that the Schott has provided the right environment, especially for girls basketball, because of the size of the crowds. I think UD Arena, being a little smaller, can provide that. Also, Southwest Ohio is all about basketball, and I think if you watch our regional games, if you go any of those and watch the crowds at those games, I think we can get a lot of people in the communities also to come to these games, and that would be great."
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