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Rare banner earned

Oroville girls to get state pennant

Oroville will display the school’s first-ever state banner for girls basketball in the gymnasium.

“Oroville has never been to state, until this year, depending on what WIAA ends up considering, if the Top 16 is state or not,” Oroville coach Mike Bourn said. “I guess they are going to. That’s what they said at the start of the year.”

DeSales eliminated Oroville, 50-32, in the “state” regional game this year.

“I was trying to verify it was a Sweet 16, first round of state,” Bourn said, noting signs in the tournament gym indicated it was part of the state Hardwood Classic.

“Oroville will receive credit for a state berth and will be allowed to display a state banner in its gym,” Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Information Director Conor Laffey said Thursday.

Laffey said the WIAA website will be updated to reflect the Hornets having played in a state game. Right now, if you search you get a blank entry.

“Also, the student-athletes should have received state certificates,” Laffey said. “This will be similar in future state tournaments.”

“We considered it state,” said Bourn, who said his team did not receive state certificates. “We were told it was the first round of state. I told the girls, ‘You are the first.’ I think we were the only team in North-Central Washington that had not been to state. That was a big goal of the girls this year and has been for five years. Maybe it finally has happened.”

In an effort to save money due to declining attendance, WIAA changed the 2011 state tournament to an eight-team, three-day format instead of a 16-team, four-day tournament at one site.

Teams could lose in the regional tournament, win another regional “state” game and qualify for the state tournament, where a team could win a state championship with one “state” loss.

Class 1B Colton lost to Almira/Coulee-Hartline in a regional “state” game, won another regional game and beat ACH in the state tournament for the 1B title.

“In the old days, if you lost on the first day you still could play for fifth and eighth place,” but not for the state crown, Bourn said. “I think they should go back to the old format, myself, and so do a lot of other coaches.”

Oroville girls did receive a plaque for scholastic excellence this year, the coach said. “We finished somewhere. I’m not sure what rank we finished, but they were right up there.”

“We got the team together and got a picture with the plaque,” Bourn said. “One of our No. 1 goals is to win the academic award.”

Spokesman-Review columnist Greg Lee in an April 3 column argued that if WIAA was going to refer to the regional games as state contests, then it was time to go back to the old format.

“Just handing out participant ribbons for getting to a regional site doesn’t have the same feel as actually making a trip to Spokane, Yakima or Tacoma,” he said.

Lee also said the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association was strongly seeking a WIAA return to the four-day format.

Al Camp is the sports editor for The Chronicle. Email him at sports@omakchronicle.com.

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