OHSAA ponders combining districts for Division I basketball

STAFF report



The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Northeast District Board is working on a plan to tweak the Division I sectional and district format for the 2011 state basketball tournament.

The board has discussed a pilot configuration that essentially combines six current districts into three expanded sectional/district tournaments.

Mahoning Valley teams affected are Chaney, East, Fitch, Boardman, Canfield, Howland and Warren Harding.

The plan pairs the Brecksville/Midview, Canton/Copley and Euclid/Solon district sites. For instance, the 13 schools from the Canton site and the 13 schools from the Copley site would be combined and teams would be seeded from 1-26.

Chaney, East, Fitch, Boardman and Canfield have been participating in the Canton district. Last year, Warren Harding and Howland played in Solon.

By combining the districts, it’s possible area teams may be going to a different site.

The plan calls for eight seeds (four at each site). Once the top seed selects its bracket, the second team could choose to join the same bracket or take a spot at the other site.

Harding coach Steve Arnold is strongly in favor of the new plan because it matches what’s done in the Cincinnati area.

“I’m for it ... because you had different ways they would seed teams in one part of the state and then we do something totally different,” Arnold said Tuesday.

“That’s the way they do it in Southern Ohio,” Arnold said of the revised format. “If you want it to be the same across the board, you need to keep it on an even playing field.”

In recent seasons, the Canton and Warrensville Heights/Solon districts have been loaded with strong teams.

Under the new plan, teams that have been runners-up at those sites might have a better chance to advance to the regional because good teams would be spread out.

“The Division I in Canton is a very strong tournament,” East coach Mark Cherol said. “It has to be one of the best in the state.

“Perhaps they are going for more balance,” said Cherol of the plan.

The Canton district tournament includes such strong programs as Canton McKinley, North Canton Hoover, Massillon and Canton Timken.

The change won’t have much long-term effect on the Panthers. Cherol says declining enrollment should put East in Division II for the 2012 tournament.

The Raiders, who appear to be the Valley’s strongest team, are another story.

Arnold said he believes the new plan is set for this season and could return depending on feedback gathered from coaches and administrators.

“My understanding is that it will be put in place for this year,” said Arnold, who believes the Warrensville Heights/Solon district has been the toughest in the state over the past three years.

“I don’t see any drawbacks,” Arnold said. “There won’t be just one dominant district.”