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Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016: Will the CHSAA ever get its act together?

   Leading off today: I'd already mentioned back on Jan. 29 how unhappy Buffalo's private schools were with the changes being made, but now the problem with the CHSAA girls basketball playoff format has reared its head again.

   Brooklyn Daily reporter Joe Staszewski found that New York City coaches are as fed up as everyone else with the all-too-frequent, all-too-perplexing changes to the postseason instituted by the Catholic High School Athletic Association. The girls coaches and demanding that administrators construct an intelligent format and stick with it.

   In the fall, the CHSAA tried fixing a chronic imbalance by telling each of its four diocese organizations (two in New York City and one each from Buffalo and Long Island) to show up at their state tournament with a representative in each of the three classes -- AA, A and B. That roiled the Buffalo folks, who argued that having to move their champion up a notch to 'AA' would almost certainly leave that team badly overmatched against deeper, battle-tested downstate foes.

   As it turns out, Brooklyn-Queens coaches were not happy either and rejected what was spelled out in November, Staszewski reported. That plan would have moved the Brooklyn-Queens No. 2 team into the 'A' playoff field, an absurdity in itself considering the depth of Brooklyn-Queens Division I with the likes of Christ the King, Bishop Loughlin, Mary Louis Academy, etc.

   Ads agreed to a change in January only to have league officials unilaterally alter it a week before the playoffs and revert to something closer to the old format -- their top four Division I teams from the regular season would battle for the 'AA' berth and their bottom two teams would go into the pool for the 'A' berth.

   Under that scenario last year, Nazareth went 6-19 during the regular season, dropped down to Class A for the playoffs and rattled off five straight wins to claim a Federation championship in Glens Falls. It was the third time in seven seasons a Brooklyn-Queens team had competed against megapowers all winter long, then dropped down a notch and won the Federation Class A trophy -- awkward at best and virtually incomprehensible to 95 percent of the state.

   Even the coach of the team that benefited last year and could contend again in Class A after finishing fifth in a six-team Class AA league aren't pleased.

   "You reward the teams that played well throughout the year," Nazareth coach Ron Kelley said. "The top two teams going to Federation -- that was a sound idea. I don't like the idea of giving the teams that didn't play well or do well another chance. They didn't deserve it."

   Opinion: The CHSAA needs to have a "Come to Jesus" meeting with itself. They're alienating their own schools and embarrassing themselves both with their poor choices and an inability to adhere to those policies. They need to pick a tournament format and stick with it.

   Brooklyn-Queens has to stop treating Class A like a consolation bracket and more like a destination for its actual Class A champion. There's a reason that fifth- and sixth-place teams finish in fifth and sixth place: They're not as good as the other four teams in the division. They may be worthy of a second chance in the playoffs, but that opportunity should come in Class AA rather than at the expense of the organization's Class A membership.

   For all the trouble some NYSPHSAA sections have when it comes to figuring out how to classify their private-school members, they at least settle the matter before the season and stick to the plan. When Section 5 strayed from that policy a couple of years ago and tried to move the Bishop Kearney girls in mid-season, figurative rioting ensued because people realized the dangerous precedent the move would set.

   Given the reaction back then I can't fathom what the reaction would be if Section 5 waited until Feb. 20 to move


  • 2016 NYSPHSAA boys basketball brackets
  • 2016 NYSPHSAA girls basketball brackets
  • 2016 NYSPHSAA boys hockey brackets
  • 2016 N.Y. wrestling tournament brackets (PDF)
  • an Aquinas or a Mercy down a class. By the same token, the rest of the state's girls basketball community might faint if the CHSAA started acting like an organization rather than a disorganization.

       MMA school closing: Immaculata Academy in Hamburg will close its doors at the end of the school year, making it the latest in a string of private schools to close in the face of declining enrollment.

       Sister Ann Marie Hudzina, the general minister of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, announced the decision.

       aside from the smaller student body, the religious order also is dealing with a shrinking religious order. According to Hudzina, the community, which used to number upward of 500 religious women, has decreased to fewer than 60, many of them approaching retirement.

       Minnesota dilemma: When youth hockey starts hitting proverbial thin ice in Minnesota, you've got to figure there's trouble ahead for the sport.

       Edina, arguably the state's premier hockey hotbed, is experiencing lower participation in age-group programs. The Star-Tribune reports cost is the culprit within the Edina Hockey Association. The nature of the high cost will floor a lot of casual observers.

       In Edina, dryland training -- strength, skill and agility drills in exercise rooms with treadmills, synthetic ice and other expensive equipment -- is included in the cost of registration for youth hockey. That cost is typically between $1,300 and $1,500, the paper reported.

       "One of the consistent things we hear from families is, the sport of hockey is expensive, and there's feedback that people would like us to find ways to reduce the cost," said Mike DeVoe, president of the Edina Hockey Association. "We're aware that we have to make hockey more accessible and affordable."

       The dryland training is contracted out to Velocity Hockey Center, with the EHA paying for 800 hours of usage per year at what the paper reports is around $200 an hour. But Velocity pays rent on its space at Braemar Arena, a $3.6 million facility financed primarily with city-issued bonds, so ending the training contract would blow a big hole in the arena's budget and put taxpayers as a whole on the hook for more money.

       "They know we're in this together and we've got to find a solution for everybody," said Edina Mayor Jim Hovland. "And that's what I expect the outcome to be."

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