The KHSAA announced Thursday that the 15th Region will adopt a modified regional tournament format for basketball, baseball, soccer, softball and volleyball as part of multi-year pilot program to address alignment issues within the region.
The new format, which will go into effect at the beginning of the 2017-18 sports season, will include an additional round of play in the regional tournament. The 15th Region will consist of 16 teams evenly distributed among four districts, all of whom will advance to the regional tournament.
Seeding plans for the 16-team region tournament were not immediately clear and will be worked out in future meetings with 15th Region schools, the KHSAA said. Regular season play, rankings and voting were mentioned as possible criteria in a news release from the organization.
“This pilot program could provide great data for other regions who may face a similar issue in the future with further school consolidations,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said in the release. “This is something that could potentially be implemented by any region with sixteen-or-fewer teams, and we are eager to monitor its results going forward.
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“With consolidations, declining populations and job losses in many areas we have to be open to new ideas and I am grateful this group of superintendents stepped forward with their request. This also has the added benefit of de-pressurizing discussions around district alignment due to the fact that all teams advance to regional play.”
Lawrence County Coach Travis York, whose team has been moved to different districts multiple times in the past decade, said the “devil’s in the details” when it comes to assessing whether the modified format could be successful or not.
“In an ideal world, you’d play all 15 teams and then just seed it off of record and tie-breakers,” York said. “ ... I know most teams play most, if not all of the region already, and that would seem to be the most fair way to do it.”
York threw out the idea of seeding teams, 1-4, based on the district tournament outcome, as is done now to determine the 1 and 2 seeds from each district. The three and four seeds would be determined by a third-place game, which isn’t currently played, in that scenario.
“It’ll be interesting to see if it does work. Maybe we can work the kinks out for everybody else if they decide to go with this (statewide).”
Allen Central and South Floyd will consolidate into Floyd Central next season. That school previously had been slotted into Class 3A, District 6 for football (along with Belfry, Lawrence County, Pike County Central and Sheldon Clark). Floyd Central will be part of the 58th District for other sports in the new 15th Region alignment. Betsy Layne and Prestonsburg wil remain in the 58th District while Lawrence County will move into it from the 60th District.
The 57th District will still consist of Johnson Central, Magoffin County, Paintsville and Sheldon Clark.
Jenkins, currently a member of the 14th Region’s 53rd District, will move to the 15th Region’s 59th District. East Ridge, Pikeville and Shelby Valley will remain in the 59th District.
Piarist, presently in the 59th District, will move into the 60th District with current members Belfry, Phelps and Pike County Central.
“We had several discussions with KHSAA staff about the various proposed options prior to today’s decision and completely accept this move,” Jenkins Superintendent Mike Genton said in the release. “While we have a long and proud tradition in Region 14, it is hard to dispute the reduction in travel costs that this move will allow.”