Snowy weather brings changes to basketball postseason

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

Did you know for nearly 60 years, from the late 1800s to the 1940s, some professional baseball teams came to Arkansas for spring training?

Baseball players came to Hot Springs to shake off their winter rust before the season began. Even Babe Ruth came here to play golf, eat, hit balls out of the park, eat, drink, and quite possibly rub elbows with some of America's more interesting characters.

Clay, why did the baseball players stop coming to Arkansas? 

Why thank you, imaginary person, for asking that question. Well, there were a few factors, and these two are my favorites: (A) They came up with an effective deterrent to deal with mosquitos that resided in the wetlands and swamps they drained. Thus Florida became much more viable, and (B) the Arkansas weather during February and March isn't fun.

It's fickle. The only predictable thing about Arkansas weather between January and Easter is that it can be a little unpredictable. 

We didn't quite hit three seasons within 24 hours, but we did have about 5 ½ to 6 inches of snow on the ground, and exactly a week later, it's 75 degrees outside.

Just three or four years ago, the temperature was in the 80s during the same week.

It brings me to this point... In a way, I'm glad the Little Rock area got some snow enough to shut things down for a bit because, after that, the Arkansas Activities Association decided late Friday afternoon to change everyone's basketball schedule. Some teams will get one more game.

I'm willing to bet you, if the weather spared Little Rock of all that snow, we would have the regional tournaments during the week of Feb. 22 instead of going back to district tournaments.

That bit of news from the AAA surprised many people, especially those on the western side of the state (which was hit by the snow first). The coaches kept holding out that they could get a district tournament for basketball, but as the snow accumulated and the days rolled by, they worked together to figure out how to seed the regional tournament. 

They had a plan. The schools in this area were ready to go. One coach was wrapping up practice and telling his team what to expect for the regional tournament. Only to get a text message from some errant sportswriter.

"Forget everything I just said. Clay just texted me. The Triple-A just pushed everything back a week."

Other coaches didn't even know what I was talking about when I texted them. After scrambling during a week of snow, those coaches and athletic directors pulled through again, and by Friday night or Saturday morning, they had their district tournament schedule

The real heroes in this are the referees. I can't imagine the level of coordination it takes to work with their crews to adjust schedules and help out these kids play another basketball game.