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One BIG final party at ‘The Big House’

July 03, 2024 - 00:00
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OSSAA announces all basketball classes will play at State Fair Arena in its last year

High school basketball fans in Oklahoma are in for a special treat - at least for one year.

The OSSAA announced last week that every classifi cation - from B all the way up to 6A - will play the 2024-25 state tournament at State Fair Arena, also known at “The Big House.”

The move was made after surveying coaches and meeting with the basketball coaches’ advisory committee, wrote Brian Lester in an email to coaches and administrators statewide in announcing the decision.

Lester oversees basketball for the OSSAA.

It’s a historic season in more ways than one next year.

It will be the 60th anniversary of the OSSAA hosting state championship games at the Big House… and it’s likely the last.

A new arena is being built just south of the current site and is expected to be complete prior to the 2026 state tournament.

For Classes 4A and below, playing games at State Fair Arena is nothing new.

However, Classes 5A and 6A will be newcomers.

They’ve played their state tournaments the last two years at Lloyd Noble Center on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.

For several years prior to that, the state’s two largest classifications played their state games in the Tulsa area.

The one major change again, for this season only - is the first week of state tournaments will now include Class 2A. That first state tournament week will begin Tuesday, March 4, and will culminate Saturday, March 8.

Every team that reaches state in those classes will play their quarterfinal games at the Big House: All Class A quarterfinals are Tuesday, March 4; Class B quarterfinals are Wednesday, March 5; and 2A quarterfinals are Thursday, March 6.

The 2A semifinals will be at a sub-site on Friday, March 7, while all other semifinals will be at the arena.

Putting Class 2A in the first week of state basketball does require those teams to start the playoffs a week earlier than normal, meaning the regular season is shortened.

Some coaches are having to reschedule games they had on the books for what now will be a playoff week.

“It shouldn’t be too bad,” said Cashion boys coach John Hardaway. “I just need to move two games that I had scheduled for the Thursday before and the Monday after our new district week.

“Ten years ago, this would have been a bigger challenge.”

Hardaway does admit that games required to be postponed due to bad weather earlier in the season could require some extra work to get them into a shortened time frame.

“It could get problematic, but that’s always the case,” he said.

The lights at State Fair Arena from small-school “Championship Saturday” will barely have time to cool off before they’ll need to be turned back on.

Class 5A will play its quarterfinal games Monday, March 10. State games will be played at the Big House every day for the rest of that week.

Classes 5A and 6A will play semifinal games at subsites before returning to the arena for title games on Saturday.

According to Chris Wilfong of, this is the first time all classes will decide their championships at one site since 1981.

That’s when the highest classification was 5A.

Classes B, A and 2A played state the first week and 3A-5A the second week, Wilfong wrote.

He wrote that every title game was played at State Fair Arena from 1966 to 1981 with the excaption of two classes in 1967.