Class B changes possibleValley City will become the big school on the block when it shifts from Class A to Class B basketball. But the Hi-Liners’ reclassification ultimately could be a boost for the smaller North Dakota high school basketball programs.
GRAND FORKS(AP) — Valley City will become the big school on the block when it shifts from Class A to Class B basketball. But the Hi-Liners’ reclassification ultimately could be a boost for the smaller North Dakota high school basketball programs.
Valley City will join the B basketball ranks in the 2009-10 season. The North Dakota High School Activities Association’s board of directors also is considering changes in the setups for state Class B boys and girls basketball, as well as volleyball.
One proposal — called the 40-80 plan — would guarantee four spots in the state B basketball and volleyball tournaments to smaller schools.
“In moving Valley City to Class B, the (enrollment) discrepancy is becoming bigger between the big and small schools in B,” said Grafton superintendent Jack Maus, a member of the NDHSAA’s board of directors. “This is a chance for small schools to keep their districts and play schools their own size to qualify for the state tournament.”
Maus sees growing momentum for the 40-80 plan.
The NDHSAA’s Class B redistricting committee, of which Maus is a member, has two proposals on the table for consideration by member schools.
Under the first one, Class B will stay as it is, with Valley City being assigned to a district. The only change would be redistricting so each district would have seven or eight teams.
Under the other proposal, Valley City would be placed in District 5 for its first season, after which one of three changes would be made the following season:
r Class B would adopt a B state super tournament in basketball, similar to what Class A basketball and volleyball has now, with the state girls and boys B basketball tournaments held at the same site at the same time.
r A three-class system in state basketball would be adopted. It has been discussed frequently in recent years, but never got enough support to be approved.
r The 40-80 tiered plan would be adopted in basketball and volleyball.
Thee 40-80 plan would divide the B schools with the 40 highest enrollments in the state, placing the teams placed in four regional tournaments with the four winners qualifying for the state tournament. The other B schools, which currently total approximately 80 schools, would be placed into eight districts, with four regional tournaments and four state qualifiers for the state B.
“We’re trying to preserve Class B basketball,” Maus said. “It’s the one state tournament some people consider sacred. And the small schools will get opportunities to still be a regular part of the state tournament. We’re dealing with the growing disparity in enrollment of schools.
“We don’t have a recent history of a lot of small schools making it to the state tournament any more,” he said.
The larger B schools have been the ones winning the state titles of late.
Bottineau, for instance, has won the last three state girls basketball championships. Langdon won in 2005 and Larimore in 2003 and 2004. Those teams would be in the 40-team division of larger B schools.
In B boys, since the 1999-2000 season, state champions have been Fargo Oak Grove, North Border, Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg (twice), Dickinson Trinity (twice) and Grafton. All would be in the 40-team division of larger B schools under the proposal.
Grafton is defending Class B boys state champion.
“We’re asked how we won,” Maus said. “It’s because we had more depth than a lot of schools. And that’s at least in part because of our larger enrollment.”
Action will be taken soon on the proposals.
The plans have been sent to every school, and officials have been asked to comment. The NDHSAA board will meet Oct. 22, and Maus said approval of either option 1 or option 2 is expected then. The following day, at the general assembly meeting, the approved plan will be shared with the members.
Also at the Oct. 22 meeting, Maus said the board will vote on three proposals: Switching the Class B boys basketball and girls basketball seasons so girls basketball will be the final tournament of the winter season; limiting district tournaments to three days; and returning to eight-team B regionals. That would reverse an earlier committee recommendation that reduced regionals to four teams.
Maus anticipates all three proposals will be approved.
But the change that is the most novel is the 40-80 plan.
“From what I’m hearing, the super tournament is getting the least support from around the state,” Maus said. “The 40-80 plan seems to be drawing the most interest. And that’s because it’s something new. Whether it will actually be supported remains to be seen.”