Without a change in format, it’s conceivable — if not probable — that Edinburgh Community High School will not participate in Johnson County tournaments in various sports beyond the 2015-16 school year.
The seeding process used for the girls and boys basketball event is one Edinburgh athletics director David Walden would prefer to do away with in favor of a
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Walden isn’t alone in his thinking. Indian Creek athletics director Justin Ray also sees a blind draw as the way to go.
But athletics directors from the county’s other four public high schools prefer the seeding system.
“(Blind draw) is what we do for our sectionals,” Walden said. “My big concern is, how can my coaches who don’t see all the teams play determine who is 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5? By not seeing all the teams and seeding, you give an advantage to the top two teams.
“If they’re good enough, they could play three games.”
If the format isn’t changed, Walden said Edinburgh likely will pull out of seeded county tournaments. He has the backing of superintendent William Glentzer, the father of Lancers boys varsity basketball coach Drew Glentzer.
“My concern is looking at the interest of my school,” Walden said. “My superintendent has given me the authority that we will probably pull out. We will honor the contract.
“It’s a six-year deal, so next year would be the last year.”
Only seven of the 16 Johnson County tournament events are seeded. The seeded events are volleyball and boys tennis in the fall; girls and boys basketball in the winter; and baseball, softball and girls tennis in the spring.
Non-seeded county competitions are boys and girls cross-country, boys and girls golf, boys and girls swimming, wrestling, and boys and girls track and field.
By far the smallest of the county’s six public high schools with an enrollment of 285 students (the next-smallest, Indian Creek, has 610), Edinburgh has approximately one-ninth the number of students as Center Grove, the county’s largest high school.
Walden said he thinks efforts toward what he considers a level playing field would boost fan support for all schools.
“The reason why they started the county tournament was because of class basketball, to try to bring all the schools together and have that old sectional feel,” said Walden, who is in his second year as Edinburgh’s chief athletics administrator. “If that’s the case, then blind draw it. I think we could make a big deal out of it. Do it in the springtime, and have the coaches there and see who you play.
“I just think if we’re trying to get the old feeling back, a blind draw is the way to go.”
The Johnson County boys basketball tournament began in 1921, with coach Bud McClain’s Whiteland Wrens winning the inaugural event. Other champions in those early years included the Trafalgar Redbirds, Hopewell Tigers, Edinburg — that’s right, no “h” — Maroons, Union Township Ramblers and the Masonic Home Craftsmen.
Greenwood won back-to-back county championships in 1964 and 1965 under coach Jack Nay before the tournament was discontinued for four decades before finally returning in 2004-05.
The location rotates alphabetically. This year’s tournament begins Monday. Greenwood is the host school. The semifinals are Jan. 16. The championship final is Jan. 17.
Longtime Center Grove athletics director Jon Zwitt not only prefers the current system but said it was one of the primary conditions for reconstituting the county basketball tournaments.
“One of the stipulations we had to put it back together in 2004 was that we did seed it,” Zwitt said. “We just felt it made no sense to have the two best teams draw each other the first night, and we wanted to give everybody a fair chance. We’re trying to find the best matchups.
“From a spectator’s standpoint and from a coach’s standpoint, why would you want to have a blind draw and have Nos. 1 and 2 on Tuesday night at 6 o’clock?”
Zwitt also rejects assertions that the seeding system hurts the smaller schools.
“I think it works real well right now. In actuality the seeding helps Edinburgh because if you’re going to seed them, theoretically, the two biggest, best schools would be out of the picture,” Zwitt said. “Now you’ve got the four smaller schools, theoretically, and they can play each other that first night and still advance into the semifinals.
“If you don’t have seeding, they run the risk of getting knocked out in the first round.”
On seeded county tournaments, all six coaches are asked to list their top five seeds while leaving their own team out. The top two seeds draw byes into the semifinals, while the No. 3 seeded squad faces the first team drawn after that in the first round. The two remaining teams also play against each other in the opening round.
Walden also would like to play the boys and girls county basketball tournaments together. The girls currently play in November at the beginning of the regular season, when teams have played only one or two games. He also wants to do away with the third- and fifth-place games at both venues.
Walden has the support of the Lancers’ boys coach, Drew Glentzer.
“In my opinion, having a disparity in the size of the schools in the county, I don’t know why the biggest school would care,” said Glentzer, whose 2011-12 team finished runner-up to Center Grove on the Trojans’ home floor. “It would give them an opportunity to play an extra game and bring a new excitement to the tournament.”
“That’s as even as you can make it. I don’t know why we wouldn’t want to just try it for a little bit.”
THE TOPS HAVE IT
After a 39-year hiatus the Johnson County boys Basketball Tournament returned in 2004. Since then the top two seeded teams have played in the championship game eight of 10 years:
2004-05: (1) Franklin 67, (2) Center Grove 66
2006-07: (1) Center Grove 74, (2) Franklin 61
2008-09: (1) Center Grove 43, (2) Whiteland 42
2009-10: (2) Franklin 67, (1) Center Grove 58
2010-11: (1) Center Grove 78, (2) Whiteland 46
2011-12: (1) Center Grove 68, (2) Edinburgh 55
2012-13: (1) Franklin 46, (2) Center Grove 42
2013-14: (1) Franklin 39, (2) Center Grove 32
SEEDS OF CHANGE?
Johnson County’s other four public-school athletics directors weigh in on the topic of seeding vs. a blind draw:
“I am in favor of seeding because it creates better matchups than a blind draw would.” – John Regas, Franklin
“I’m in favor of keeping the seeding format. There’s less chance of a much stronger school playing a weaker school.” – Pete Huse, Greenwood
“If I had to vote tomorrow I would vote for a blind draw. It could help us if, say, we get a bye right off the bat, and that’s one less game we have to play. Not just in basketball, but in all sports. That could be a positive for us.” – Justin Ray, Indian Creek
“I am in favor of seeding. More competitive first-round games. It keeps the best two teams in opposite brackets for championship if they can win other games. But (we) could survive blind draw since we do that in sectional, and it works.” – Ken Sears, Whiteland