With the 2012-13 prep basketball season officially in the rear-view mirror, teams can start looking ahead to the 2013-14 season. Teams and players will hit the gym this spring and summer, already preparing for next season.
While coaches are determining what they need to do better next year to have success, I’m going to look at the bigger picture and point out some of the changes I would like to see off the court.
There are some changes I would definitely like to see -- like adding a shot clock to the high school game -- that I’m not going to address here. Instead, I’m going to focus on three things that I think could change the prep basketball landscape in the next year or three.
1. Have Class A and Class C follow AA and B examples
This one is pretty simple. Class AA already combines its boys and girls tournaments. Class B did it this year with some great feedback. It’s time for the A and C classes to follow suit.
Expand the tournaments to four days and schedule two of the combined tournaments on one weekend and the other two the following weekend.
Not only does the combined tournament make for a great atmosphere, it makes for less travel for fans and would certainly increase media coverage on the B and C tournaments. It’s a win-win.
2. Live video streaming and stats from all state tournaments
This one is in conjunction with combining the tournaments. The Montana High School Association experimented with providing a video stream of the State AA tournament on its website this year and received a lot of positive feedback.
From the fans I talked to, it was a high-quality video stream, which left fans wanting more. Adding live stats would only increase the user experience.
3. Re-district Class C
Class C was on the brink of needing an overhaul anyway. With more consolidations forming and teams changing classes, now is as good a time as any to reorganize the districts and maybe even the divisions.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Northern C had 32 teams -- four eight-team districts. If things don’t change this offseason, District 8C will be the only one in the North with eight teams. 10C has seven, 9C six, and the 7C is looking at a five-team league now that Denton is co-opping with Stanford-Geyser.
My recommendation? Blow up the 7C and move some of those teams to other conferences in the Northern division and others to a new 5C in the South.
Winnett-Grass Range, Hobson, and Moore-Judith Gap could move to the 5C. Current 6C teams Harlowton-Ryegate, Broadview-Lavina, and Custer could move, too. Add in Melstone from the 4C, and you have a nice seven-team district.
Slide Wibaux and Terry to the East, and you have 21 teams in the South, making up three seven-team districts.
There would be 18 teams in the Eastern division, and you could shift those around to form three six-team districts.
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Roy-Winifred and Denton-Stanford-Geyser would stay in the North, with Denton-Stanford-Geyser moving to the 8C, and Roy-Winifred going to the 9C. Fort Benton would move from 8C to 9C to balance the conferences.
So districts would look like (no changes to the West):
East (18 teams)
1C (six teams) -- Westby-Grenora, Froid-Lake, Scobey-Opheim, Culbertson, Bainville, Brockton.
2C (six teams) -- Wibaux, Terry, Savage, Richey-Lambert, Circle, Fairview.
3C (six teams) -- Dodson, Frazer, Hinsdale, Lustre Christian, Nashua, Saco-Whitewater.
South (21 teams)
4C (seven teams) -- Ekalaka, Hysham, Northern Cheyenne, Plevna, Rosebud, Broadus, Jordan.
5C (seven teams) -- Winnett-Grass Range, Hobson, Moore-Judith Gap, Melstone, Broadview-Lavina, Harlowton-Ryegate, Custer.
6C (seven teams) -- Absarokee, Bridger, Fromberg, Park City, Plenty Coups, Reed Point-Rapelje, Roberts.
North (23 teams)
8C (eight teams) -- Augusta, Belt, Cascade, Centerville, Denton-Stanford-Geyser, Geraldine, Great Falls Central, Highwood.
9C (eight teams) -- Big Sandy, Box Elder, Chinook, Hays-Lodgepole, North Star, Turner, Roy-Winifred, Fort Benton.
10C (seven teams) -- Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Dutton-Brady, Heart Butte, Power, Simms, Sunburst, Valier.
With three-district divisions, each division could host a nine-team divisional tournament. Each district would send three teams to the divisional round, eliminating the need for district challenge games.
They make sense geographically, make each district within its division equal in terms of number of teams, and get rid of challenge games. What’s not to like?