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tBBC OHSAA: Should Public and Private schools have their own Tournaments?

Michael Smith

OHSAA: Should Public and Private schools have their own Tournaments?
Michael Smith
via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


(Image courtesy Ohio High School Athletic Association)

Hello everyone, welcome as I talk Ohio High School state tournaments and the “Big Question”. Should private schools play in the their own state tournaments separate from public schools?? With March Madness starting in College Basketball, its already going on in High School Basketball in Ohio. This is a hot topic debate and I’m here to tell you what I think.

Introduction: Why am I asking this question?

High School sports, basketball in particular, have always been a passion of mine. For many years a group of my dad’s friends and I went to Columbus to watch the state championships. I’ve been following high school basketball for over 20 years, since I was a Sophomore in high school. It was then that my old high school, Newton Falls, won it’s first ever District Championship. Since then, they have won 5 more district championships and Friday night in Warren, OH they won their 6th district championship.

However, I’m going to tell you what usually happens to them and a lot of public schools when they get to the regional tournament in Canton, and other areas around Ohio, and why I feel that Private high schools in Ohio need to have their own tournaments, especially in basketball.

How are you placed in a Division?

In Ohio, there are 4 divisions in basketball. Division 1 is the giant city and private schools, then Division 2 is a little smaller. Division 3 and Division 4 are the much smaller schools. Division 1 schools must have 340 or boys or more, for Division 2 its 185-339 boys, for Division 3 109-184, and Division 4 its 108 or less. What division you are in is based on how many students of each sex you have at your school. It doesn’t go by the size of the city or area you’re in. A private school from a big city could have only so many boys in their school so they don’t have to be in the bigger divisions.

How do you win a state title?

In Ohio in order to win the state championship in basketball you must win 3 mini tournaments. First, you must win your district championship. This is basically all the area teams you play all season in one tournament. Everyone is included regardless of record. You must win 3-4 games to win your district championship. You then go on to the Regional tournament. At this point there are only 16 teams left in the entire state. Regional tournaments are usually played at bigger cities. Like I said previously, my small old high school gets sent to Canton for it’s regional. At this point in time, you must win 2 games to win the regional bracket. If you do that, you get to the State Championships — the Final Four in Columbus, OH. When you get to Columbus, it is just like the Final Four we love to watch on CBS. There are only 4 teams left and if you win 2 more games, you are the state champions in your division.

For any team, that isn’t an easy task. You have to win eight games in a row versus the best teams in the entire state. Legitimately, only a few have a chance of doing it every year. The problem is — that few — is usually private schools. This is mostly true in the 2 smallest divisions 3 and 4. The big city schools in Divisions 1 and 2 can usually stand up to the private schools when it comes to basketball.

How many championships have private schools won recently?

Over the last 10 years, from 2006-2015 a private high school has played in 9 out of the last 10 State Championship games in Division 3, winning 7. In Division 4, a private school has played in 8 out of 10 championship games winning 3. That means out of a possible 20 championship games in both Division 3 and Division 4, a private school has played in 17 of them, winning 10. You also have to realize there are only 1,172 private schools in Ohio, compared to 4,237 public schools. The 1,172 private schools are then broken up in the 4 divisions in basketball.

A few years ago this debate heated up again due to the number of state championships private schools were racking up in Ohio in both basketball and football. In 2010, St. John’s (Delphos) beat public school-foe Shadyside 77-6 for the title in Ohio’s smallest classification, Division VI. From 2008-2010 Ursuline Academy (Youngstown) won 3 consecutive Division V titles by at least three touchdowns over a public schools. This past year in Ohio High School football, of the 7 state championships, 4 were won by Private schools and in 6 of the 7 championship games, a Private School was playing.

Now back to basketball and my old high school. As I stated earlier they have now won 6 district championships since 1995. They are 1-5 when going to Canton afterwards, 3 times they have played an undefeated #1 state ranked private school, one time they played an undefeated #3 ranked public high school (who they beat, their only win ever in Canton). One of those years was the 1999-2000 season. Newton Falls had won their 2nd district title. First, let me tell you a little about my hometown. Its a small town by Warren, Ohio, which is by Youngstown. It has a population of roughly 4,000 people. After winning the district championship in the 1999-2000 season, Newton Falls, town of 4,000, was again heading to Canton, where they would face #1 undefeated Akron St Vincent-St Mary’s who had a talented freshman on their team who went by the name of LeBron James. Anyone heard of him?? Heard he went pro or something. Anyway, that’s right a little school from a small town had to play LeBron James and Akron St Vincent-St Mary’s. Raise your hands if you think that’s fair.

Here’s the game!

Of course my old high school was completely outmatched and lost the game big. I realize this may seem like I’m crying and throwing a little fit here, but I just want to show how unfair some of these games truly are. Playing LeBron James and Akron St. Vincent-St Mary’s might seem unfair to anyone, and I understand that.

Another reason why private schools have an unfair advantage when it comes to high school sports is that they are allowed to recruit in Ohio where public schools really can’t. When a smaller city school actually produces a great player, a private school can come in, offer him a scholarship, exposure, and more opportunities. Also being a private school, these schools usually have more money, better coaching, and better facilities. What do you think most kids are going to do? I’ll let you answer that.

Now let me tell you the story of Cleveland Villa Angela-St Joseph. This private school from Cleveland, obviously, has bounced from Division 3 and 4 the last 10 years. Now Division 4 in Ohio High School sports, as I said earlier, is for the extremely small schools. These schools have less than 108 boys in their entire high school. Cleveland Villa Angela-St Joseph in 2013 had 4-5 Division 1 college basketball prospects on their team. A small private school had that much basketball talent. They won the state title easily, so easily in fact, they won the final 2 games by margins of 31 points and 24 points to win the state title. Subsequently, they have moved up to Division 3 again and have played for the state title now 3 years in a row (2013-2015), winning 2. Oh, the team they lost to?

Lima Central Catholic, another private school. Cleveland Villa Angela-St Joseph and Lima Central Catholic have played each other for the division 3 state title 2 years in a row, each winning 1. In the past 10 years Lima Central Catholic and Cleveland Villa Angela-St Joseph have played in 5 state championships between them in both Division 3 and Division 4.

As I said, my old high school won another district championship this Friday. They go to Canton this Wednesday , where they’ll play the winner of Garfield Heights District Champion, which was….Cleveland Villa Angela-St Joseph.

Conclusion: What to do?

All is fair in love and OHSAA sports, I guess. Private schools have dominated boy basketball and football in the lower divisions for many years now. I realize life isn’t fair, there are haves and have nots. There are winners and there are losers. That being said, should the playing field be level though? Having public vs public and private vs private would do that, in my opinion.

The post OHSAA: Should Public and Private schools have their own Tournaments? appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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