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Girls basketball semifinals and finals, plus wrestling finals, team and individual, find new homes

By: Tom Markowski, May 9, 2017, 1:43 pm

East Lansing – The championship rounds for girls basketball, team wrestling and individual wrestling will move to new venues for the 2017-18 season, as approved by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its annual Spring Meeting this past Sunday and Monday.

The girls basketball semifinals and finals, played from 2004-06 and then 2010-17 at the Breslin Center at Michigan State University, will move to Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids. The team wrestling finals, contested the last two seasons at McGuirk Arena at Central Michigan University after a long run at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena, will begin a minimum of a four-year run at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. 

The individual finals, previously a three-day event hosted by The Palace of Auburn Hills from 2002 through this past March, will be contested at Ford Field in Detroit over two days. 

In addition to those changes, the Representative Council also approved keeping the boys basketball semifinals and finals at the Breslin Center for the 2017-18 season.

The council also approved a return to Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome as the host of both 8-player football finals in 2017. NMU hosted the first 8-player final in 2011. The 8-player playoffs will move from one to two divisions beginning this fall. 

The moves of the girls basketball and individual wrestling finals were made necessary by conditions outside of MHSAA control. Had the MHSAA held the girls basketball finals in 2018, and also in 2020-22, would conflict with the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament and an opportunity for Michigan State’s women’s team to host first and second-round games should it qualify and earn a top-16 overall seed.

The individual finals, formerly held at multiple sites before moving together to Joe Louis Arena in 1999, needed a new host as the Palace is expected to close before next season.

“It is with much gratitude to our recent hosts of the girls basketball and wrestling finals that we make these changes. But although we have enjoyed our time and relationships built, we also are excited to work with these next facilities and their staffs, who are similarly passionate about creating the finest experiences for our athletes and fans,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “We received interest from a number of facilities and managers who also value what our championship events provide for teams and their communities, and we’re eager to begin working with Calvin College, Wings Event Center and our familiar friends at Ford Field and Northern Michigan University on these endeavors.”