Friday, February 24, 2012

Talented teams at "Solon Regional" need to be spread out

Here is a list of Division I boys basketball teams, not picked at random: Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, Garfield Heights and St. Ignatius.

This is not a list of the top contenders to win the Cleveland State Regional, although all four would be included in such a group. These are seeds one through four at the Solon District. Even with a season-ending injury to Cleveland Heights' best player, this bracket is so loaded that Senate champion JFK is the fifth seed and 19-1 Kenston is sixth.

I wouldn't blame any of the middle seeds at Solon if they looked at the Euclid District wondered "what if." The balance of power in the East Side Division I districts is heavily in favor of Solon, so much so that an idea to fix the problem was floated.

In the beginning of 2010-11 season, the Northeast District board planned to combine its six Division I districts into three "super districts." For example, the teams assigned to Solon and Euclid would be combined into one pool and seeded one through 24. Teams would then pick which site they want to play at, and two district champions would feed into the CSU Regional.

The plan was abandoned after some coaches objected because the change happened with little notice and without their voices heard. However, the problem still exists.

The board should revisit the issue to avoid the concentration of top-flight teams at the "Solon Regional."

If this year's seeding meeting had been held under the super district plan, the only Euclid District teams to crack the top top tier would have been Mentor and Brush. At the time the seed voting -- Feb. 12 -- the Cardinals most likely would have been the No. 1 seed. The rest of that group would have included Cleveland Heights, Shaker, Garfield Heights, St. Ignatius, JFK, the Arcs and Kenston.

After that, it's possible that North would be the only other team originally assigned to the Euclid District to break the top 10 of a Euclid-Solon super district vote. The Rangers, who are the No. 3 seed at Euclid this year, lost at home to Solon's No. 8, Maple Heights, 57-54, and play Solon’s No. 7, Bedford, on Saturday.

Based on historical performance, there is no indication Euclid will supplant Solon as a better district in the future. The saying, "you're going to have to play them all at some point" does not apply here because the tournament uses a seeding process, thereby giving better teams a reward for a good season. That can't be done if most of those teams are in the same district.

The talented teams at Solon need to be spread out, and the super district is the way to do it.

This opportunity is unique to Division I because the geography would allow this to happen without forcing teams to travel great distances if they end up in a different bracket.

Let’s hope the Northeast District board revisits the issue.

- Howard Primer


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