Saturday, February 20, 2010

What if Section II used county champions?

Inspired by watching today's Siena College at Butler University men's basketball game, I thought, what would happen if Section II used a county champion system to determine the best team in the area?

If you've ever seen the film Hoosiers, little Hickory High advances to the Indiana State Tournament and defeats South Bend Central - one of the largest school districts in the state - in the championship game at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Siena played there today.

The idea is this: instead of slicing teams into classifications based on the number of students in a school, what if teams were grouped geographically and faced off in a regional tournament to decide the single best team from Section II?

If we slice up the teams by county, we can make relatively even groupings by combining the northern and western counties. I'm lumping the single-sex private schools into the mix here, so the numbers would be slightly different for boys and girls tournaments.

Albany County (16 teams): Albany, Maginn, Academy, CBA, Bethlehem, Colonie, Guilderland, Shaker, Cohoes, Ravena, Waervliet, Holy Names, Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Voorheesville, Heatly and Loudonville Christian.

Rensselaer County (14 teams): Troy, Catholic Central, Columbia, La Salle, Averill Park, Lansingburgh, Tamarac, Emma Willard, Berlin, Hoosick Falls, Hoosic Valley, Maple Hill, Rensselaer and Doane Stuart.

Schenectady County (8 teams): Schenectady, Niskayuna, Bishop Gibbons, Mohonasen, Scotia, Schalmont, Schenectady Christian and Duanesburg.

Saratoga County (12 teams): Saratoga, Ballston Spa, Shen, Burnt Hills, Mechanicville, Spa Catholic, Schuylerville, Stillwater, South Glens Falls, Corinth, Galway and Waterford.

  • For the more rural counties in the section, we would have to combine a few into one super-region.

Columbia-Greene (11 teams): Ichabod Crane, Cairo-Durham, Catskill, Coxsackie, Greenville, Hudson, Taconic Hills, Chatham, Germantown, Hawthorne Valley and New Lebanon.

Montgomery-Fulton-Schoharie (14 teams): Amsterdam, Gloversville, Broadalbin, Cobleskill, Fonda, Johnstown, Canajoharie, Fort Plain, Mayfield, Middleburgh, Schoharie, Northville, Sharon Springs and St. Johnsville.

Warren-Washington (16 teams): Granville, Cambridge, Greenwich, Salem, Queensbury, Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, Hadley-Luzerne, Lake George, Warrensburg, Argyle, Fort Ann, Fort Edward, Hartford, North Warren and Whitehall.

  • Certainly there could be some adjustments to this placement. It would make sense to put South High in the Warren bracket for those rivalries with Glens Falls, Hudson Falls and Fort Edward. Burnt Hills could also slide over to the tiny Schenectady County bracket to bolster a small lineup of teams. (Burnt Hills high school is just a mile over the county line and many of the BH-BL kids live in Glenville in Schenectady County.)
During the regular season, teams would continue to play in their traditional leagues and conferences. When it came time for sectionals, however, teams would be seeded by county committees and use a playoff to determine a county champion.

Then, the county winners would square off in a section-wide tournament to determine the best team from the Capital Region. This could be done in two ways. The Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia-Greene and a bye spot could be placed on one side of the bracket and the remaining four conferences would battle it out on the other. Or, numbers could be drawn from a hat every year to create a randomized bracket.

Obviously, this is a hypothetical situation, but it would be fun, wouldn't it?

My winners of the 2009-10 proposed Section II county championships
Boys Basketball
Albany: C.B.A.
Rensselaer: Hoosick Falls and Maple Hill knock off the bigger schools along the way, but Maple Hill prevails in the finals
Schenectady: Without the Millinghaus brothers at Schenectady High, Scotia-Glenville wins this year
Saratoga: Shenendehowa
Columbia-Greene: Germantown makes it interesting against the Patroon teams, but Ichabod Crane prevails over Catskill
Montgomery-Fulton-Schoharie: Amsterdam would be tough to beat as the biggest school in the area, but Fonda wins here
Warren-Washington: With no South Glens Falls entry (they're in Saratoga County), Queensbury wins

Regional tournament
(Albany) CBA - bye
(Renss.) Maple Hill vs. (C-G) Ichabod Crane - Maple Hill wins in a close one
('Toga) Shen vs. (W-W) Queensbury - Shen
(F-M-S) Fonda vs. (Sch'dy) Scotia - Scotia holds off the Braves
CBA vs. Maple Hill - CBA
Shen vs. Scotia - Shen
CBA vs. Shen - This might happen yet in the AAs this year, so I'll hold off on a prediction for now. It would be a great game.

My winners of the 2009-10 proposed Section II county championships
Girls Basketball
Albany: Likely comes down to Holy Names and Colonie - Holy Names prevails with defense
Rensselaer: Averill Park girls hold off a tough field of Hoosic Valley, Maple Hill and Catholic Central
Schenectady: Mohonasen
Saratoga: Shenendehowa
Columbia-Greene: Germantown
Montgomery-Fulton-Schoharie: Amsterdam girls top Fonda here
Warren-Washington: Greenwich girls beat the big schools

Regional tournament
(Albany) Holy Names - bye
(Renss) Averill Park vs. (C-G) Germantown - Averill Park
('Toga) Shen vs. (W-W) Greenwich - Shen wins, but Dani DeGregory scores some points
(M-F-S) Amsterdam vs. (Sch'dy) Mohonasen - Mohon cruises
Holy Names vs. Averill Park - Another matchup we may see in a few weeks, Averill Park has the depth to outlast AHN
Shen vs. Mohonasen - Shen is just a bit better than their Suburban counterparts
Averill Park vs. Shen - Averill Park won the regular season meeting in Clifton Park earlier this season, but as Colonie proved, the Lady Warriors are beatable, just not here.

Who is this year's Hickory High? A tournament like this would certainly favor the larger schools, but could any of the smaller schools string together a few upsets?
Feel free to sound off in the comments or to send me an email at the address listed above.

Check back Thursday evening at 5 p.m. as I'll host a live chat to recap the opening round of the playoffs and preview the Section II quarterfinals, as well as give you a brief on the New York State wrestling championships set to begin Friday.

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