Men's Basketball

Sac State can host tournament in Sacramento, league says

The Sacramento State Hornets bench erupts in the final seconds of the game against the Montana Grizzlies at The Hornets Nest on Jan. 31.
The Sacramento State Hornets bench erupts in the final seconds of the game against the Montana Grizzlies at The Hornets Nest on Jan. 31. rbenton@sacbee.com

Sacramento State will get the home-court advantage after all, if its men’s basketball team wins the Big Sky Conference.

Conference officials announced Friday they will allow the Hornets to host the conference tournament at The Well, the Sac State student recreation and health center, a site that is capable of handling 3,000 fans and television media. The team’s regular campus gym, The Hornets Nest, seats only 1,100 and was deemed by the league years ago to be inadequate to handle the eight-team championship tourney.

The tourney, which will take place March 12, 13 and 14, is hosted annually by the team that wins the league’s regular-season title. For the first time in years, Sacramento State is in the running. The Hornets are in second place, a half-game behind Eastern Washington. Sacramento State has four games left.

For weeks, Sac State officials have been scrambling to find a place for the team to host the conference final should they end the regular season in first place. Earlier this month, Big Sky officials said the tournament might have to be played as far away as Reno in the 5,000-seat Events Center there.

Now, Sac State officials say they’ve received conference approval for an on-campus option.

“We got their blessing,” interim Athletic Director Bill Macriss said.

Macriss said the campus would bring in a floor, baskets, scorers table and seating for the fans, and would turn some rooms into locker rooms.

“We’re confident we’ll be able to put on a first-rate event,” Macriss said. “We want our students and fans to enjoy the success of this season here in Sacramento.”

Jon Kasper, a representative for the Big Sky Conference, said a conference deputy commissioner toured The Well on Thursday and concluded it was suitable for the tournament. Kasper said the decision had to be made now. Though it is uncertain whether Sacramento State will win the regular-season title, the school needs time to plan in case it is the host.

“We may not know who is hosting the tourney until the regular season ends March 7, but the tourney starts March 12, so Sacramento is already beginning the (planning) work. In the event they win, they have to be ready to go.”

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

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