Local high school basketball coaches react to 3-class proposal

Dec. 7—JAMESTOWN — Some local coaches said a three-class system makes the game more fair for some smaller schools than the current two-class system, while one coach said it doesn't affect his school in a significant way.

"Jamestown would be in the highest class regardless like we are right now," Blue Jays boys basketball head coach Jacoby Lloyd said. "So, it wouldn't truly affect where we are from a basketball standpoint. I think ... mainly as a basketball fan, the opportunity to watch three boys and girls state tournaments would be exciting."

On Dec. 1, the North Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors met and voted to accept a three-class system for boys and girls basketball. If approved, the system will see the disillusion of the current two-class system, Class A and B, in favor of three classes, Class AA, A, and B, depending on school size. The board is set to vote on the proposal on Feb. 8.

Class AA will have 19 teams while Class A has 31 teams. Class B is the largest class with 74 teams spread across eight regions.

The Loboes would be in Region 2 in Class B if the proposal passes.

"My thoughts are that the smaller the middle class the better," LaMoure/Litchville-Marion boys basketball head coach Tyler Thielges said. "I think that the proposal gets fairly close to what I would prefer personally. I would like to see the middle class even smaller even if they did go forward with the three-class system. I think Carrington is more like a Class B school than a Central Cass, Valley City, Wahpeton, Devils Lake, schools like that."

In the current system, Jamestown High School plays in Class A against schools like Dickinson, Mandan and Minot. The plan would mostly see the Blue Jays be unaffected by the change, but local schools like Carrington and Valley City would be more significantly impacted. The Hi-Liners would drop down a level to the new Class A, while the Cardinals would be bumped up to Class A from their current position in Class B.

The plan states that the goals are "to promote a competitive balance in the sport of basketball, to foster an increase in participation in the sport."

Lloyd is hoping the realignment will help the team get more than one non-Western Dakota Association game on their schedule per season. Lloyd said he believes the realignment will do that, allowing the Blue Jays to play against different teams than the team usually plays against.

The three-class system will see the enrollment determine what class the schools are placed in. In the proposal, schools that enroll 575 or more students will be in Class AA, while Class A schools have between 180 and 574 students and Class B schools have less than 179 students.

Edgeley/Kulm-Montpelier girls basketball head coach Rory Entzi said he is hoping the new system helps increase the number of girls playing basketball in the state.

"I think for a school like us let's face it, we've got three towns in a co-op," Entzi said. "We had to do that for numbers so that we could compete. I think it's hard for us to compete against the larger towns. No offense to the larger communities but when you take a look at the Class B poll and then look and see how many of those schools would be in the middle class versus how many would be in the bottom class. I think we need to do something to make it more equitable."

If the plan is approved, the Rebels would be in District 2 in Class B with teams including Medina/Pingree-Buchanan, LaMoure/Litchville-Marion and Ellendale. In the current plan, the Rebels are in District 5 in Class B with the Loboes and the Cardinals.

The plan does not see many of the local teams moving up or down with the biggest change happening to Carrington, which would move from District 5 in Class B to the East Region in Class A with Valley City, Wahpeton, Fargo Oak Grove and Thompson.

"I don't think it would impact our scheduling too much," Thielges said. "Looking at the realignment I think we play a lot of teams that would be in our region already. I think a lot of the teams that we have on our schedule would be teams that we would try to continue to play."