DAYTON, Ohio — The Ohio High School Athletic Association girls basketball state tournament is moving from Columbus to Dayton.
The OHSAA announced Tuesday morning it has signed a three-year agreement to have the annual March tournament played at University of Dayton Arena.
The OHSAA girls basketball state tournament had been held in Columbus since 1987 at either St. John Arena or the Schottenstein Center. However, the OHSAA said in a statement Tuesday there are a limited number of dates available to use either Columbus-based arena in March.
Since the OHSAA sanctioned girls basketball in 1976, the state tournament has only been held outside of Columbus once when the University of Akron hosted the event in 1986.
“We are very excited to sign a three-year agreement for our member schools to experience UD Arena,” OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass said in a statement. “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.”
Having hosted 125 NCAA basketball tournament games, UD Arena has been the home court for March Madness more than any other facility in the country.
UD Arena has a seating capacity of 13,000 and has played host to many OHSAA basketball tournament games, along with Atlantic 10 Conference and NCAA tournament games. During the regular season, it is the home of the University of Dayton Flyers women’s and men’s basketball teams.
UD Arena recently completed a transformation project that was the largest construction effort in the university’s history. It is regarded as one of the nation’s premier basketball facilities to go along with fan support that consistently ranks among the best in college basketball.
“We’re very proud that the OHSAA has entrusted us to host the girls basketball state tournament at the University of Dayton Arena for the next three years,” said Scott DeBolt, Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Dayton and Executive Director of UD Arena.
“The same ingredients that make UD Arena the ideal place for the NCAA First Four – community support and excitement for the game of basketball, our facilities, staff and tournament hosting experience – will help create lifelong memories for the young women who come to Dayton to play in the state tournament and their school communities.”
The OHSAA girls basketball state tournaments were held at St. John Arena from 1976-1985 and 1987-1999 before moving to the Schottenstein Center in 2000, where they remained every year except 2005 when the girls returned to St. John Arena due to the OSU men’s ice hockey team hosting a conference playoff series at the Schottenstein Center.
Girls basketball practice officially starts Oct. 23 with the regular season starting Nov. 20. The state tournament is scheduled for March 11-13, 2021 at UD Arena.
"I just think it's going to be a big change," said Ohio Girls' Basketball Report director Bryce McKey. "But having dealt with being the event operator for different facilities at different times it's never easy. And so you have to make the most of the cards that you're dealt. At the end of the day, UD has a great arena, they have a great fan base for women's basketball and so it's not going to change how special it is to make a Final Four."
Mount Notre Dame, the 2019 Division I state champion, will return to the court next season after having an undefeated record (28-0) as a state semifinalist before the season was canceled. MND has a 44-game win streak.
The Cougars feature junior standout guard KK Bransford, who is one of the nation's top players in the 2022 class. Bransford was named to the MaxPreps All-Amercan Third Team in late March. Bransford was the only sophomore on the first four national teams by MaxPreps.
MND is tied with Pickerington Central (including old Pickerington High School) and Columbus Africentric Early College as the only Ohio schools to win seven state girls basketball titles.
The 2021 boys basketball state tournament is scheduled to be played at St. John Arena March 18-20. The OHSAA said Tuesday there is no host site in place yet for the boys basketball state tournament in 2022.