The 2008 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Championship Tournaments ended the twenty-second State Championship Series conducted in Scholastic Bowl by the IHSA. It was the seventeenth season in which there were separate State Championship Tournaments held for small schools (Class A) and large schools (Class AA). For the twelfth year, both tournaments were held at the Peoria Civic Center. The tournaments were held on Friday, March 14, 2008; the first time in history that they were not held on a Saturday.
After a few years of experimenting with subsectionals, the IHSA moved away from them. This was considered a positive development as it loosened some of the geographic stringency that often forced better teams to eliminate themselves earlier in the State Series.
Teams were assigned to one of eight sectionals within each class. Coaches then seeded the top 8 teams in their sectional. The IHSA then assigned the seeded teams to one of four regionals (1 with 8, 2 with 7, etc), with the remainder of the teams assigned to a regional geographically. The winners of the regionals would advance to their respective sectional tournaments, where they would play a three match round robin to determine a winner. The determination of the geographic boundaries of the Sectional was arbitrarily decided by the IHSA Office.
Each round was comprised of 30 toss-ups and accompanying bonus questions.
In the State Championship Tournament, teams would be randomly assigned to pools of four, and play a three match round robin. The winners of each pool would advance to the Championship Match, and the runners-up in each pool would advance to play for third place. Ties were broken by head-to-head results or total points scored among tied teams (in the event of a three-way tie).
The top four teams earned trophies and medals for team members, coaches, principals, and activities directors.
For the first time in the history, the Tournament was moved to a Friday (instead of the traditional Saturday). The stated reason from the IHSA was that Peoria area hoteliers were becoming increasingly adamant about not making rooms available for only Friday night, for those few teams who spent Friday night in Peoria, on the weekend of the heavily attended IHSA Boys Basketball Championship Tournament. The Advisory Committee offered recommendations of moving the tournament out of Peoria to a high school, or trying to rent hotel rooms for those few advancing teams that use them in a town about an hour away (Bloomington-Normal being suggested). These recommendations were rejected, and not voted on by the Advisory Committee. More than a few coaches termed the move "insulting" as it forced the reworking of a major event, just to please commercial interests revolving around a basketball tournament.
For the eighth year, the questions were written by a group of retired coaches and persons from other states.
PORTA, Fairfield, and Rochester all finished 2-1. On points scored among the tied teams, PORTA (367) advanced to the finals, with Rochester (307) advancing to play for third place. Fairfield (296) finished 11 points away from Rochester.
Byron swept through their pool with a 3-0 record. The Latin School went 2-1 to advance to the third place match.
Stevenson swept through their pool with a 3-0 record. Springfield, Loyola Academy, and O'Fallon all finished 1-2. The tie was broken based on points scoed by the three teams against each other, with Springfield (477) advancing to the third place match over Loyola (451) and O'Fallon (412).
Auburn swept through their pool with a 3-0 record. Wheaton North went 2-1 to advance to the third place match.
- Auburn became the first team outside of the Chicago area to win the Class AA State Title since Peoria Richwoods in 1995.
- Coupled with the results of the previous year, it marked the first time in the 17 year history of the two class tournaments that both the Class A and AA champions were first-time winners in back-to-back seasons.
- The 506 points scored by Wheaton North in their first round match against Sandburg marked the first time since 1987 (the first year of the IHSA SCT) that a team had scored 500 points in a match at the IHSA SCT. In 1987 and 1988, the format involved 40 question matches, making it the first match in IHSA SCT history to see a team score 500 points on only 30 questions. This came despite average scoring being somewhat lower than years past.
- Some Regional Tournaments in downstate Illinois were disrupted by a snowstorm. While normally held on one day, these tournaments were stretched over three days before wrapping up.
- This marked the first year in which the tournament was moved from the second floor balcony of the Peoria Civic Center to the brand new ballroom. The ballroom itself was large enough to be partitioned into a central theater for all participants and spectators, and 8 large competition rooms. The new setting was a vast improvement over previous facilities.
- Fan attendance was at a low not seen in many years, with many attributing this to the move to a Friday competition. Auburn clearly had the largest fan contingent.
- This tournament marked the last coaching appearance by Wheaton North coach Susan Martin. She ended her career with a record of 946-189 (0.833).