Breaking down the proposed basketball realignments

Posted 5/6/20

Similar to the recent proposed football alignments in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League that I broke down a few weeks back, there was also a slate of new proposed realignments for boys basketball. I always love this talk. Regardless if I agree or

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Breaking down the proposed basketball realignments

Posted

Similar to the recent proposed football alignments in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League that I broke down a few weeks back, there was also a slate of new proposed realignments for boys basketball.

I always love this talk. Regardless if I agree or disagree, I always get excited when new alignments are created. It’s always fun and interesting to consider all the different options and possibilities.

Here is my breakdown on the proposed boys basketball realignments for our teams:

The proposed plan would break Division I down into four divisions - East, North, South and Central.

Bishop Hendricken and Cranston East would both fall into the Central Division in this new plan.

For Hendircken, I don’t think it makes much of a difference. The Hawks are perennial contenders and were the best team this past season, it was almost a lock that they would have won the open state tournament as they breezed through the Division I bracket.

Regardless of who Hednricken faces, the Hawks will always be in the mix and be one of the top two or three teams each year.

For Cranston East though, this could be a tough draw.

The proposed schedule would likely mean teams would face their division opponents twice and the rest of Division I teams just once. East is very young and is rebuilding, last year the Bolts may have actually been the youngest team in DI.

Although East has some promising talent coming down the pike, a plan like this, having to face Hendricken twice per year, could be tough for the next year or two.

Division I is stacked with talent, it’s not like East would be getting off easy in any scenario, and I’m sure members of the team would not want that anyway. I am also not advocating that the alignments be called off because of this issue. I’m just stating facts, East will likely struggle next year in this alignment considering how young it still is. The future is certainly bright, but the Bolts are still probably two years away from being ready to compete with the top clubs.

The proposed deal would then create a 20-team Division II group, with a North and South group made up of 10 teams.

What is exciting is that Pilgrim and Toll Gate would both be part of the Division II South conference … which would be awesome for the rivalry.

These two clubs in the past couple years have only had the chance to square off in preseason games or exhibitions, but to have meaningful matchups every year … that would be fantastic for the city. The excitement would be through the roof.

The two most exciting high school sports are football and basketball, at least in terms of what draws a crowd.

Pilgrim and Toll Gate only play on Thanksgiving, and although that annual game has become a great tradition, it’s still not the same as if it was for an actual win. So to potentially have that in basketball, that would be great theater, especially if the teams met in the postseason.

In terms of the competition, Pilgrim will be fine. The Pats made the playoffs last year in Division II and have a handful of players returning, including Tyriek Weeks and Peter Kay. I expect them to be back in the playoffs and competing for a title.

As for Toll Gate, although it may be tough sledding early on after making the jump up from Division III, I actually think it has a chance to be a playoff team. The Titans have made the DIII postseason the past two years and reached the finals in 2018-19. Toll Gate has a rock-solid program and also returns much of its core. Do I believe a DII title is in the cards? No, but a playoff appearance might be.

DII North would then feature both Cranston West and Johnston.

West reached the DII Semifinals in March and fell to eventual champion Portsmouth. Similar to teams like Hednricken and Pilgrim, I don’t anticipate this proposed realignment changing where West stands in the division.

The Falcons lose their top two players to graduation in Jared Olson and Andrew Dionizio. No matter what, West will be facing an uphill battle to return to title contention next season. West should have enough to qualify for the postseason, I'm just not entirely sure how high of a ceiling it has and if these possible changes make a difference.

For Johnston, this will be a big test.

The Panthers reached the Division III Final in March and dropped an overtime heartbreaker.

Now, Johnston enters next season losing a significant amount of seniors … this year was the best group it had in quite some time.

So, how will the Panthers fare moving up a division with a new-look lineup? I don’t want to count them out entirely, especially since Tom Zednik is returning, but I don’t agree with bumping them up quite so soon.

Johnston was obviously a top team in DIII, and in most cases, teams that finish that well are just fine with a move up in competition. But considering how much roster turnover it is facing, it could spell trouble.

Like I said, I love a good conversation on division alignment. I also feel that it is good to shake things up every few years, so even though I may not agree with each individual decision, I’m all for bringing this idea to fruition. Let’s see what happens.

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