Boys: Stepinac vs. South Shore

Xavier Wilson of Archbishop Stepinac drives to the basket against South Shore during last spring's Class AA boys final of the Federation Tournament of Champions.

Glens Falls will have to settle for one state basketball tournament.

Organizers of the Federation Tournament of Champions announced Monday that the tournament will leave Glens Falls after next spring’s event and relocate to Fordham University in the Bronx. The tournament was held in Glens Falls from 1981 to 2010 before leaving for Albany. It returned to Glens Falls in 2017.

Glens Falls Athletic Director Chip Corlew, who led the effort to keep the Federation tournament, said the decision was not a total surprise. Most of the teams in the Federation tournament come from New York City and Long Island, and geography appeared to be a big part of the decision.

“Since most of the teams are in New York City, it saves them a lot of money to stay in New York,” Corlew said. “It’s a smart move. We’ve made some great relationships with everybody, and we’ll miss them, but I can’t argue with the reasons.”

Glens Falls is on track to get back a different tournament — the state public high school boys basketball tournament — starting in 2020. Both the state boys basketball committee and the leadership of the New York State Public High School Athletic association have backed the city’s three-year bid to host it at Cool Insuring Arena. A final vote by the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee is expected on Feb. 1.

If that happens, Glens Falls will continue to host a single state basketball tournament in March. Had Glens Falls won the bid for the Federation tournament, the city could have hosted tournaments on back-to-back weekends, as it did from from 1987 to 2010.

The state public high school tournament features semifinals and finals for boys basketball teams playing in the NYSPHSAA. The Federation tournament brings together boys and girls champions from four state organizations to determine an overall state champion on the following weekend.

The public high school tournament is by far the bigger draw from an attendance standpoint. The public high school event brought tens of thousands of fans to the area when it was held in Glens Falls, with an all-time high of 22,724 in 2003. Attendance for the Federation tournament last March was 3,050.

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A main complaint of having the Federation tournament is Glens Falls was its remote location from most of the participants. Fordham’s Rose Hill Gymnasium, with a capacity of 3,200, is accessible via mass transit in the New York City area. The New York State Federation of Secondary School Athletic Association said in a press release that 70 percent of tournament participants come from downstate.

“The Fordham University gym is perfect for that event,” Corlew said. “A lot of the fan base will come out and watch games. I hate losing them, and we do wish them well. They had nothing but complimentary things to say about us. But in the end, it make so much sense (to move downstate).”

St. John’s University, Fordham and Glens Falls all put in bids to host the Federation tournament starting in 2020. Corlew said the Glens Falls bid was similar to what was offered three years ago, but with a slightly better rental fee.

“All three organizations presented solid bids and were ready to host a quality event for us,” Federation President Donal Buckley said in a press release. “However, Fordham’s historic gym and location in the city convinced the committee.”

Corlew said Glens Falls will try to bring the Federation tournament back to Glens Falls when the tournament is up for bid again three years from now.

“We’ll definitely make another run for it,” he said. “It’ll be an uphill battle, but we’ll work hard to put another bid in in three years. We want both weekends.”

The Federation tournament is the second state event in less than a week to announce that it’s pulling out of the Glens Falls area. On Wednesday, the NYSPHSAA announced that it and the state softball committee had recommended a bid from Section XI (Suffolk County) to host the State Softball Tournament for 2020-22. It’s currently held at Moreau Rec.

Cool Insuring Arena continues to host the State Girls Volleyball Tournament each fall. The arena recently completed its 12th consecutive year of hosting. The tournament is under contract through 2020.

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