NIAA needs to strengthen postseason field
What does it take to make the Nevada prep basketball postseason these days?
Precisely three wins.
If the Whittell High Warriors win their one-game playoff with Tonopah tonight in Hawthorne, they’ll advance to the Nevada 2A Northern Division tournament Friday in Lovelock with a 3-21 record.
Nothing personal against Don Amaral’s squad because the Warriors have been very competitive and scrappy. Especially for a makeshift squad that only partly resembles the one fans had hoped for following last year’s division championship and third-place finish at state.
“It’s kind of quirky that we’re 2 and 21 and we still got a shot to get into zone,” Amaral. “It’s pretty quirky how this whole thing’s worked. We’ll keep trying.”
But the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association should have rules that usher 3-21 teams to the track and batting cages. It’s not fair to schools that have accomplished respectable seasons — in this case Incline (15-10) and Lovelock (15-10) — to risk everything in a watered-down playoff format.
In this case, the 2A could reward the division champion a little more by not only giving them the home-court edge but a first-round bye. By inviting only three teams, the second- and third-place teams could fight it out for the right to meet the regular-season champ.
More than once, this columnist has longed for the day that the NIAA would adopt the one-class system Indiana made famous and invite every school in the state to the big dance.
They might as well given the current format.
Even if Whittell had beaten Hawthorne to finish fourth on Saturday night, Tonopah could have turned around and demanded a one-game playoff. A quirky NIAA rule for five-school divisions in class 2A permits the fifth-place team to challenge the fourth-place finisher if the schools split their two-game season series.
“If they had challenged us, that’s the rules, let’s play,” Amaral said.
Fortunately a one-game playoff was used to break a fourth-place Sierra Division tie between Wooster and South Tahoe on Monday night in Carson City.
It would have been awful for STHS coach Tim Jaureguito or Wooster coach Mike Anderson to have to tell their young ladies that they didn’t make the playoffs because a written tiebreaker rule said they beat the wrong teams. As it turned out, Wooster and STHS defeated the same teams in their division an identical number of times, so the only solution was to meet on the hardwood.
Their only disadvantage is that the survivor has to play High Desert champion Fallon with one less day of preparation.
“It would have been nicer preparing for another team right now,” Jaureguito said.
The NIAA’s rules are obviously unique and some of them stink.