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Tom Mix, Published September 17 2013

NDHSAA Board approves new regional format for Region 2, as well as Class B realignment

By Tom Mix

tmix@forumcomm.com

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – The days of North Dakota Class B volleyball and boys and girls basketball district tournaments in the state appear to be numbered.

On Tuesday, the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a proposal allowing Region 2 to enter a two-year trial period of playing “super region” state-qualifying tournaments for volleyball and boys and girls basketball beginning in 2014-15.

Region 2 becomes the second region in the state to adopt this super region tournament format, which eliminates the playing of district tournaments. Region 7 is entering its first year of playing super region volleyball and basketball tournaments this year.

There are 16 districts and eight regions in Class B.

The need to create co-op teams has led to a decline in the number of teams in many districts and regions across the state. District tournaments determine the top four seeds that advance to region play, but with the decline in the number of teams, the district tournaments have lost significance.

“Futuristically that is where we are headed,” NDHSAA Executive Secretary Sherm Sylling said of super region tournaments. “Whether we call them super districts or super regions, it doesn’t matter. We can only lose so many schools to co-ops and school closings before we have to do something different. It’s obvious we can’t continue as we are.”

Whether the super region format is eventually adopted statewide remains uncertain. Sylling said it will ultimately come down to whether or not NDHSAA member schools decide that’s the direction they would like to go.

“I think as members of the board, we have to keep our eyes open to the fact that this is the way it may end up going,” Park River Superintendent and NDHSAA board member Kirk Ham said. “I don’t know if the board is ready to make that decision, but I think in a year or two, if these experiments are successful, it is a good possibility.”

Region 2’s proposal is similar to Region 7’s super region format.

Each team in the region plays each other at least once during the regular season. If teams play once, the game will count for two points, and if they play twice, each game is worth one point.

Region 2 has 14 volleyball teams. Under the super region format, the top two teams will receive byes, leaving the other 12 teams to play six play-in matches at the site of the best seed to determine the final eight-team field.

In boys and girls basketball, Region 2 has 13 teams, creating a format where the top three teams receive byes and the other 10 teams play five play-in games at the site of the best seed to determine the eight-team field.

Each team in Region 2 will be allowed to play two more regular-season games or matches to make up for the absence of a district tournament.

Prior to signing off on Region 2’s proposal, the board also approved a realignment plan for Class B districts and regions for the 2014-15 school year. It is the first major realignment effort in the state in the last 15 years, and it passed by a 7-3 vote.

The plan balances out the number of schools in each district and region as equally as possible. There are currently some regions with as many as 16 teams and some with as few as 10 teams.

Starting next fall, Region 1 will be trimmed from 16 teams to 14. Oakes High School, which plays in District 1, moves to District 5 along with Carrington High School, which currently plays in District 7. Finley-Sharon-Hope-Page will move to District 3 from District 2.

“The realignment plan, in my mind, is independent from the super region tournament for now,” NDHSAA board president and Fargo Public Schools activities director Todd Olson said. “Even though it may be a short-term thing, I think we needed to get back to some semblance of balance. … I think we can all see than down the road we are probably going to see the end of district tournaments in our state.”

Other moves

The NDHSAA board approved a co-op application for girls hockey between West Fargo and Fargo Oak Oak Grove. The co-op will take effect for the 2013-14 season, but requires a late fee to be paid. … The North Dakota Association of Counties Traffic Safety Program officially became a supporting sponsor of the NDHSAA by a unanimous board vote.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562