Glens Falls says goodbye to State Finals in a BIG way

An empty basketball court prior to the Section 2 Tournament in February.  Adirondack Sports Photo.

Well, if this is it for the Boys Basketball Tournament in Glens Falls, what a way to go out. 

Four teams from the hometown Section, all winning their semifinals to set up a scenario where Section 2 played in all six sessions of the State Basketball Tournament.  Over 18,000 passing through the doors, to watch as all four teams would go on to win state titles.

Including the hometown Glens Falls Black Bears, who never got that thrill of watching Joe Girard III win a State Championship.   They got to watch Glens Falls come back and win the State Federation Title back in 2019, thankfully, but had to watch from afar as Glens Falls played in Binghamton.

Now the tournament gets ready to head back to the Southern Tier.  

If this is the last time Glens Falls sees the tournament here in Hometown U.S.A., what a way to drop the curtain.  The most titles by a section since Section 1 (Downstate - Lower Hudson Valley) accomplished 4 titles in 2004, the first year that New York State went to a 5 classification system.  This year's 4 was with 6 classifications.  Multiple cases of the arena being more than half full with screaming fans bringing an electrical atmosphere for all to enjoy.  

It's our own version of that trademarked expression that happens every March in the NCAA.

There will be commenters that will scream that the only reason why so many attended was the presence of local teams.  Those comments are already showing up, when those saddened by the departure of the state basketball tournament to Binghamton show off the crowd and the atmosphere as an argument why the tournament should stay here in Glens Falls vs. heading to more centralized Binghamton.  Especially after this event being held in Glens Falls for over 40 years, wishing that tenure would translate into unbreakable tradition.

Since the return of the State Basketball Tournament in 1978, Glens Falls has hosted the finals 42 times, with only the first three years when the finals were held in Rochester, and the 2017-2019 years in Binghamton being the exception to the tradition during the modern era.  Glens Falls has hosted this thing since 1981, and have made this a successful event other cities want to host.   Including Binghamton, which is why they underbid Glens Falls and won the rights back in 2017-2019.  And then did so again, winning the rights to host the tournament starting next March for 3 more years.

Back in 2016, when it was known we were losing the State Tournament, we knew we were getting the Federation Tournament back from Albany, the tournament where state tournament champions face off against NYC schools, as well as Catholic Association schools and Independent association schools, to crown an overall state champion.  But that tournament has had quite a bit of difficulties rebuilding lost momentum ever since the pandemic struck down the 2020 and 2021 tournaments.  It was announced before the season began that it would not be held in 2024.  It's supposed to be held downstate since Glens Falls won the State Tournament back, but it has found difficulty finding a home, and it doesn't sound like a return to Glens Falls is in the cards.  

It doesn't sound like there's any plans for the future of the Federation Tournament... which also is saddening.

For someone like myself, the tournament has been a part of much of my lifetime here in Glens Falls.  I remember seeing the expanded coverage of the tournament in The Post-Star, including shot charts and making sure those teams coming in for the weekend were treated as important as those who spend time in the region year-round.  I remember the weekends in Mid-March going to the mall and having the extra traffic shopping and exploring what the region has to offer.

That feeling won't be here now.

The electricity inside the Cool Insuring Arena will go dim.

Could it be forever?  Guess we'll see in 3 years.   But you can guarantee more cities wanting to host the state championships will now feel inspired to submit bids, seeing how successful it is thanks to the careful love that Section 2 and the Basketball Committee has given the tournament for decades, combined with how Section 4 and the City of Binghamton have shown twice that money talks louder than historical performance and tradition when it comes to those who ultimately make the final decision.

One thing's for certain... Section 2 and the committee will try their hardest to make sure this isn't the last time the Cool Insuring Arena's lights shining on the hardwood floor goes dim in mid-March.

Here's hoping no other town comes along and further lines the pockets of the ones who make the final decision.

Photo by Adirondack Sports, @sportsadk on X.

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