Valley upset it’s not allowed to host game

The District 6 high school basketball playoff brackets were released Thursday afternoon, and though the Juniata Valley girls team knew what was coming, that didn’t mean it was happy about it.

The Lady Hornets are the No. 3 seed in the Class 2A bracket and will play sixth-seeded Bishop McCort on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

Unfortunately for Juniata Valley, it will be the only higher seeded team in the bracket not hosting a game in that round. That game will be played at Hollidaysburg in part of a doubleheader that starts at 6 p.m.

“Last year, we had a couple teams that played at small gyms, and we had reports that a large number of fans were unable to get in,” District 6 chairman Bill Marshall said. “So we sent out a survey to all 50 member schools. One question we asked when we moved to higher seeds hosting is that is there any belief that we should limit capacity of gyms to host? Because our gate sale tickets don’t split 50-50, the home team could sell all 300 tickets to home fans, and other people could travel a long way to get there and can’t get tickets.

“I recommended to the District 6 committee that we limited it to gyms that could hold 500 after we got the survey results. We asked schools to put a number they thought it should be, and I believe 35-40 of the 50 schools listed 500. That number was approved in June.”

That meant Juniata Valley, which hosted Claysburg-Kimmel in the District 6 quarterfinals last season, was ineligible to host.

Juniata Valley coach Rachelle Hopsicker said her gym was not one of the places complained about a year ago and that there were several empty seats for their playoff game against Claysburg-Kimmel.

The new rule also applied to Saint Joseph’s, which was in position to host a Class 1A quarterfinal game against Saltsburg but will now play that game at Bald Eagle Area. Marshall said the rule would have also applied to Ferndale, but no teams from that school were in a position to host.

“It’s more about the players and our fans than us coaches,” Hopsicker said. “You spend from the day you lose the year before to today to get that home seed, and everyone else gets that home game. Our kids deserve it too, because they have earned it.”

Hopsicker said she personally had not received a survey but didn’t know if someone else from the school did. She said that Juniata Valley felt it proved it could host a big game with the way the school handled the Bellwood-Antis girls game earlier this season.

“The rules are the rules, and things happen,” Hopsicker said. “I don’t think it will deter our fans. We’ll still sell the same amount of tickets and still won’t fill out Hollidaysburg’s gym. First-round games are harder to sell a lot of tickets for, because a lot of teams are playing common nights.”

The winner of Juniata Valley’s game with Bishop McCort will make the PIAA playoffs. The loser’s season is over.

The Bellwood-Antis (2A), Tyrone (3A), and Hollidaysburg (5A) girls earned top seeds for the District 6 playoffs.

On the boys side, Bishop Carroll (1A), Bishop Guilfoyle (2A), Huntingdon (4A), and Altoona (6A) top their respective brackets.

For a complete listing of matchups, please see Scoreboard on page B5. A complete analysis of the District 6 playoffs will appear in Sunday’s Altoona Mirror.