GHSA adopts new power ratings system.
Lakeview Academy boys basketball coach Seth Vining has already been looking at his schedule for next season.
There are eight games against teams in a higher classification, just like this past season, more than any other Class A team he knows of.
Next season, that schedule could work to the Lions’ detriment in a way it hasn’t before.
With the implementation of a power ratings system to determine playoff teams for separate public and private state championships coming next season, the Lions will get no credit for playing an opponent in a higher classification, unlike in football in which teams will receive a power ratings boosts for playing larger schools.
“I have some real concerns there,” Vining said. “I don’t understand why football is different than the others.”
Softball, baseball and basketball will get no bonus for playing up, whereas football teams will get two points for each class above them that they play.
“We ought to get bonus points,” Vining added. “The same type of points for playing the higher schools that a football team does.”
Vining has been talking with fellow Region 8-A coach Jim Melton, the girls basketball coach of defending region champions Towns County.
Melton is already re-evaluating how he schedules based on the new format.
“It’s making it hard right now to do your schedule,” Melton said. “There’s hesitation with scheduling a higher-classification opponent.”
Also, 18 of the 25 games played must be against teams in state, which could cause issues for Towns County.
Nestled near the North Carolina border, the Hiawassee-based Indians have traditionally scheduled a number of out-of-state teams. They have to account for playing three out-of-state teams in the annual Battle of the States tournament, which they host.
Neither Hall County’s annual Lanierland tournament nor the Battle of the States will be very helpful to Towns County’s or Lakeview’s power ratings numbers. Both plan to stay in the tournaments, but the benefits of playing in them are now seen in a different light.
The strategy going forward: Stay in the same classification to give one’s team a better chance to win, while still making sure to play successful teams.
That’s the strategy that Freddie Hallman, the football coach at Holy Savior Menard (Alexandria, La.), has seen most basketball teams use. Louisiana has had a power ratings system in place since 2001 and, like Georgia, only rewards football teams for playing up in class.
“It seems that staying in your classification works best,” Hallman said.
The problem for Vining is that he prefers to test his teams by playing larger schools.
“I’ve always been a proponent of playing teams in higher classifications,” he said. “Now those games may be replaced by Class A games.”
Vining said he’s made inquiries as to why the rule was put into place as it was, but hadn’t received a satisfactory answer yet.
Georgia High School Association executive director Ralph Swearngin said the format was put together by a committee of public and private Class A schools and was approved by the full executive committee at its March meeting in Macon. The GHSA had ratified the new realignment, including the Class A championship split, at the January meeting.
“That’s the way they chose to do it,” Swearngin said. He added that any changes would have to be approved by the executive committee, which doesn’t meet again until September.
With little else they can do, Vining and Melton are making plans for the upcoming season, and like every year the goal is a state tournament appearance. Only that path is now blurred by the big changes in Class A.
“The No. 1 team goal is to get to state tournament,” Vining said. “Now it’s hard to find out how to best accomplish that.”