The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission released its long-awaited regional and sectional alignment proposals for all sports for the coming school year, and most of the attention around the state centered on the new four-class basketball system.
A two-year pilot program was recently approved in boys and girls basketball for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. Three classes have been used in West Virginia high school basketball since 1959.
In the largest classification, now AAAA, not much would change in regard to the Kanawha Valley’s current AAA schools if the SSAC proposals stand through the public comment period. All six Kanawha County schools moved up to the AAAA division, and there were only slight changes in the pairings.
Capital, George Washington and South Charleston will remain in Region 3 Section 1, but they will be joined by Riverside instead of St. Albans in the four-team section. Riverside previously had competed with the Beckley-area AAA schools in Region 3 Section 2.
Under the proposed changes, St. Albans will move into Region 4 Section 2 along with Parkersburg, Parkersburg South and Hurricane.
Region 4 Section 1 in AAAA would be comprised of Cabell Midland, Huntington and Spring Valley.
In AAA, Sissonville and Herbert Hoover will be part of the proposed Region 3 Section 2 grouping with Midland Trail and Nicholas County. In the last four years, Hoover had been lumped into Region 2 Section 2, along with schools such as Braxton County, Clay County, Lewis County, Nicholas County and Roane County.
The Kanawha Valley’s other two AAA teams, Nitro and Winfield, are in Region 4 Section 1 along with Point Pleasant and Ripley.
The Kanawha Valley’s remaining three boys teams will line up in Class AA under the SSAC’s proposed alignments. Buffalo and Poca would find themselves in Region 4 Section 1 along with St. Joseph, while Charleston Catholic will be in Region 4 Section 2 with Ravenswood and Roane County.
The AA alignment differs slightly in the girls division, as Buffalo, Charleston Catholic and Poca make up the three teams in Region 4 Section 1.
The SSAC will be accepting comments on its proposed alignment changes through Feb. 7. It based its new postseason pairings based on three criteria: geography, keeping schools in the same county together if possible and keeping the number of schools in a section as balanced as possible.
Until now, classifications in every sport the SSAC sponsors had been determined solely by school enrollment. In the new formula for basketball, school enrollment makes up 70 percent of the determination, while proximity of a school to its county seat, proximity of a school to a city with a population larger than 10,000 and a school’s socioeconomic status each make up 10 percent.
The SSAC contends that will level the playing field even further by grouping together schools from more affluent areas that have greater access to resources and opening the door wider for rural schools without that access.