N.M. hoops to play in Western Mass. tourney bracket next year


TOWNSEND — In the 2013-2014 seasons North Middlesex High School’s basketball teams will be forced to play their postseason hoops out West. The MIAA, when asked to comment on the proposal, said that simply too many teams were qualifying for the District Tournament in CMass. Division 2.

To the average high school hoops fan the process of realignment is always baffling, but in certain circumstances it is necessary. The reasoning behind the shifting of teams is to extend the opportunity for more teams to qualify for the postseason.

“This alignment business is complicated,” said MIAA Public Relations Coordinator Paul Wetzel. “There is a number of factors that go into it, and it isn’t unusual that we have schools with some of their teams in one grouping and some in another.”

Enrollment numbers are a huge player in determining where a team will play in the postseason. As it stands at the moment, North Middlesex is one of the smaller high schools in Division 2 Central Mass. with an enrollment of just more than 1,000 students. In college athletics it is an regular occurrence to have a Northeastern team playing in the Western Bracket, when there is a regional closer to the school.

To put it bluntly, the reasoning behind this move is to help level the playing field a bit. As the district qualifier rules are written, a team only has to win half of their games in order to qualify for district play. The equation used to determine who moves and who stays depends on three things: geography, team’s track record of success and failure.

The Patriots appear ready for the move, and it doesn’t seem like an appeal to the MIAA’s decision is coming anytime in the near future. Looking at the enrollment figures of MIAA sanctioned schools, North Middlesex is considerably much smaller than the majority of the schools in their division.

North Middlesex boys’ basketball head coach Erik Dellasanta was part of the study regarding moving teams from Central Mass. out West. Dellasanta made mention that Eastern Mass teams need to win 11 games to make the tournament, while Central Mass. needs to win around six.

The biggest concern from fans and people around the programs on the move was in regards to the regular-season schedule. North Middlesex will remain in the Mid-Wach B, and the opponents will only change come tournament time. It’s a statewide tournament, and this way more teams will have a crack at the title.

“We have a little bit over 1,000 kids right now,” said Dellasanta. “All Division 2 teams in Eastern Mass. are 1,000 and above. To align North Middlesex in the western region of the state in Division 2 is only right by our kids in my mind.”

If North Middlesex was to qualify for the District Tournament this year, they would compete in the Central Mass. Division 2 bracket.

“The biggest thing for us at North Middlesex is to get ourselves better and compete,” said North Middlesex athletic director Mike Dawson. “It’s all about the spot-the-ball mentality. Put the ball down and let’s play. We will go wherever they tell us to go. It doesn’t matter who we play.”