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The basketball reclassification proposal that will be voted on by the IHSAA Executive Committee in early October has some area coaches scratching their heads.
The plan – which is the result of a multi-year study by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association, the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and the IHSAA – proposes that the largest 64 schools by enrollment would make up Class 4A, with the remaining schools evenly distributed in Classes 3A, 2A and 1A.
Currently, there are an average of 101 schools per class.
“I honestly don't understand how its going to benefit anybody,” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said.
The reclassification is said to address two concerns, the size discrepancy of schools in the current Class 4A and to have a consistent amount of schools in each sectional.
The new plan would have 16 four-team sectionals in Class 4A and be played in a regional-like format, with semifinal games on Saturday morning and the sectional championship in the evening.
Both boys and girls basketball would be affected in the new system.
“I am someone who advocates playing the best in determining who the best team is,” Khaliq said. “I'm all for bigger sectionals, sectionals that mean something.
“The more we break it up, the less valuable the titles become.”
Sectionals in Class 4A would surely become more localized in the new system, but there would still be an issue when it came to local programs. Using the current enrollment figures, six Allen County schools – Homestead, Northrop, Carroll, Snider, North Side and Wayne – would remain in Class 4A. That would mean that, while four would constitute one sectional that would be played within or close Fort Wayne's city limits, two others would be at the whim of the two other schools they are paired up from outside the county.
Last year, the two boys' area sectionals were held at DeKalb and Huntington North, respectively.
“I guess if (the sectional) is only four teams it gives you a better chance,” Wayne coach Aaron Rehrer said. “In talking about it at the end of the year, I know we really don't like going to Huntington for sectionals.”
Another concern is the format for the Class 4A sectionals. While a one-day format should be better for intrigue and attendance, some coaches would like a multi-day schedule.
“You don't have too many games throughout the year with two games in one day,” Rehrer said. “Maybe you could go with a Friday-Saturday kind of thing.”
Size discrepancy in Class 4A will not drastically change in the new system from largest school to smallest. There is currently a 3,580-student difference between Ben Davis and New Palestine, the smallest Class 4A school.
In the new system using the current enrollment figures, there will be a 3,183-student gap between Ben Davis and Wayne, with 1,504 students.
There are coaches that do not agree there is a problem with competitive balance in high school basketball.
“In basketball you need six to seven players to be competitive,” Khaliq said. “If you have that, regardless of class size, you are going to be OK.
I just don't buy into the enrollment thing. When (Indiana guard) Yogi Ferrell was a senior at Park Tudor, they were the best team in the state in my mind, and they were 2A.”
While there may be more support for changes in other areas of the state, not too many local coaches are sweating the current system.
“From everybody I talk to … I haven't really heard any complaints,” Rehrer said.