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Lackawnnna League basketball considering move to three divisions

Lackawanna League athletic directors discussed a proposal for basketball realignment from four divisions to three divisions for the next two seasons during a meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Following a full Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association meeting in which football realignment and schedules for the next two years were approved, the athletic directors conducted their monthly meeting in which they discussed specifics about how the realignment could work.

Valley View, Western Wayne and Lakeland are the key schools in the move, which would impact both boys and girls basketball for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

Basketball realignment was on the LIAA agenda, but LIAA president Ron Collins said Thursday that Joe Gilhool, the president of the athletic directors’ association, merely reported to the group that a proposal would likely be ready for the April LIAA meeting.

“I don’t have anything to comment about because all he was doing was telling us we’re going to vote on it in the spring,” said Collins, the North Pocono principal.

In the proposal, the current Divisions 1 and 2 would be combined, minus Valley View and Western Wayne. Those two schools would join up with the current Division 3 members with the exception of Lakeland, which would move to play with what are currently Division 4 teams.

Gilhool said Thursday that basketball realignment is currently tied to similar discussions regarding baseball and softball, as well as the Lackawanna League’s recommendation that District 2 determine playoff seeds in all those sports through a power ratings system.

Because boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball all involve the 24 LIAA high schools, there are benefits to using the same division and scheduling formats for all those sports.

“We’re still waiting to hear because we want some consistency with our baseball, softball and boys basketball and girls basketball schedules,” said Gilhool, the Montrose athletic director, who also serves as LIAA secretary.

Basketball is in its second season of using power ratings to determine district playoff berths. Baseball and softball currently seed strictly on league record.

The switch to power-ratings based playoff qualifying in other sports reduces the need to keep teams of the same classification together in the same divisions. Power ratings formulas different than the one currently used in basketball are being considered with one of the possibilities making District 2 match other districts within the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

“We’re also somewhat waiting for District 2 to make that determination of whether they are going to go into the power rankings or not,” Gilhool said.

If identical baseball and softball realignment is not agreed upon, it does not necessarily stop the proposal.

The currently discussed format would allow for home-and-home schedules for 14 league games each in three, eight-team divisions. It would look like this:

Division 1: Abington Heights, Delaware Valley, Honesdale, North Pocono, Scranton, Scranton Prep, West Scranton, Wallenpaupack.

Division 2: Carbondale, Dunmore, Holy Cross, Mid Valley, Old Forge, Riverside, Valley View, Western Wayne.

Division 3: Blue Ridge, Elk Lake, Forest City, Lackawanna Trail, Lakeland, Montrose, Mountain View, Susquehanna.

The athletic directors could agree on a basketball format as early as their February meeting, but it could not become official until the next LIAA meeting, which includes school principals and is scheduled for April.

Teams from the Lackawanna League and Wyoming Valley Conference make up District 2.

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