When Greater Spokane League administrators decided to break football into two divisions, many thought that would ultimately lead to other sports wanting the same.
And, yes, the time has come for the same thing in basketball, beginning in 2017-18.
Some thought it was breaking in tradition. After all, the GSL has a reputation – playing everybody in league makes for battle-tested teams come postseason.
That is true to a point. The teams getting beat up more often than naught these days are the 3A teams – which probably feel more beat up than battle tested most years.
Things never stay the same forever. The GSL was established in 1976 and grew to 10 teams. And yes, GSL teams’ success in the postseason is largely because of the competition through league play.
The two biggest reasons for separating the 4A and 3A teams are for competitive equity and for better RPI rankings.
For just a moment, put yourself into the shoes of a 3A school that is getting beat up, game in and game out, by 4A schools. How much fun is that?
And in the case of the Gonzaga Prep boys and Central Valley girls basketball teams last year, wins over 3A schools didn’t help their RPI.
So now 4A boys and girls basketball teams get four more nonleague games (six total) and 3A teams get six more (eight total).
Inland Empire League athletic directors and coaches can’t wipe the smiles off their faces since learning GSL schools were opening their schedules. And for good reason.
IEL schools have struggled mightily over the years filling out their schedules. Now they have an orchard of potential opponents just to the west.
So which team(s) scheduled well going into next season?
It would be difficult to beat the schedule CV girls coach Freddie Rehkow put together.
Rehkow created a holiday tournament that is state tournament quality. Moses Lake, Sunnyside, Glacier Peak, Stanwood, Woodinville and Bellarmine Prep, the team that upset the Bears at state last year, will be at CV for games Dec. 28-30.
And Rehkow has pitted his Bears against Bellarmine Prep on the first night at 6. CV also will play Stanwood and Woodinville.
Mead will be in CV’s tourney and face a challenging schedule, too.
CV’s other nonleague games include Post Falls, which will be heavily favored to capture a state title, and a trip to Kent on Martin Luther King Day to face Kentridge.
The Bears have another open date and Rehkow is trying to land Moses Lake.
“I built the schedule just as I’d hoped to,” Rehkow said. “I wanted to be state ready and the only way to do that is to play the best teams out there. Now we just have to utilize our summer, play well in the season and prepare to be state eligible.”
It’s been difficult for several GSL teams to fill their schedules because most schools are in the second year of two-year agreements on nonleague games.
In the boys, no area team has a more difficult schedule than Post Falls.
Post Falls added Gonzaga Prep and Lewis and Clark to go along with a tournament at Lake City and a new tournament – four games at the Jerry Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.
“This will be our most challenging schedule ever,” Post Falls coach Mike McLean. “We’ll learn by the fall if we’re in the (elite division) in Vegas. We hope so because we’re not going down there for a vacation, we’re going to get better.”
McLean is excited to play G-Prep, which will return a team capable of making another deep run at state.
“We’ve been trying to get those guys on our schedule for a long time,” McLean said.
Overall, the GSL’s move to two divisions will be a win-win for all the schools in time. The more competitive teams from year to year can upgrade their schedules while the lesser successful teams can play teams more at their competitive level.
Hopefully the days of 40-point blowouts, for the most part, will be over. Nobody wins in those situations.