Basketball coaches across the Mountain State had a monkey wrench thrown at them last month when Jim Justice, the governor, squashed the start of winter sports until at least Jan. 11.
Like golf and volleyball before them, high school coaches and athletic directors went into scramble mode trying to figure out a way to put together what was once a perfect hoops schedule.
As it turned out, the Little Kanawha Conference had been working on an idea and that timeline was actually moved up.
Veteran Ravenswood boys roundball coach Mick Price said the LKC had been discussing the issue since last year’s all-conference meeting.
Normally, teams in the LKC will play a home and away series each winter with squads in their division. Counting either the placement game or the LKC Night of Champions, that meant out of 22 allowed contests in the regular season anyone in the conference had to use 15 of their dates.
Assuming basketball gets played this winter, there now are four classes for both boys and girls and many sectional and regional opponents have changed.
Now, teams in both the LKC West and East have been broken into pods. The northern pod of the LKC West features St. Marys, Tyler Consolidated, Ritchie County and Williamstown. The southern pod in the West has Ravenswood, Wirt County, Wahama and Parkersburg Catholic.
Teams in the same pod now will play a home and away series and also must play the other side once apiece, which means four games will be freed up for scheduling.
Although Williamstown and Ravenswood, for example, are allowed to play twice, they are only mandated to play once.
The LKC East currently features Roane County, Braxton County, Webster County and Clay County in the southern pod with Calhoun County, Doddridge County, Gilmer County and South Harrison in the northern pod. If Roane County plays at South Harrison this year, the Hawks then would make the return trip to Spencer the following winter.
“With any type of map there’s always going to be a chance of cancellations,” said St. Marys head boys basketball coach Mark Barnhart. “Coach Price gave a presentation on it with the ADs and some of the basketball coaches.
“We are going with that this year. Given the scenario, it’s a good option. It’s something we were looking at starting next year and we are starting a year early.”
Price noted the change already had been approved for the 2021-22 campaign.
“When we got shut down by the governor (Williamstown head coach) Scott Sauro and I started talking about implementing it right now and called up all the coaches,” Price said. “I talked to all 15 coaches and they were all into it because their schedule is already scrapped.”
“Instead of going back and everybody trying to call everybody up, let’s try to put this schedule together and play on Tuesday and Thursday.
South Harrison wasn’t going to be able to be in boys and girls, this way it allowed them to be in because their schedules got screwed up like everyone else’s.”
As it turned out, the idea was so successful the LKC girls coaches also opted to go the same avenue. Price said LKC girls games will be played on Wednesday and Friday this season.
“Next year the boys will be Wednesday/Friday and the girls will be Tuesday/Thursday,” Price added. “Hopefully, we can start playing at the end of January. I didn’t want to force a schedule on any school.
“My intent was to do something and do it now because it will work really good right now and coaches jumped on it and they were tickled to death to do it. It was a cooperating effort. It was definitely a team effort among all the schools, athletic directors and basketball coaches to get this.”
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org