Regular readers of this column probably know our stance on the way the California Interscholastic Federation employs its Open Division within the state basketball championships.
It’s never quite won us over. We’ve always understood the logic behind it — separate the most elite programs from the Division I-V fields to allow for more parity there — but have had a difficult time watching it end the seasons of some very good NorCal boys and girls teams which were considered too good for their own divisions, but clearly weren’t at the caliber of the top 3-4 teams in the region.
And then came the two-day, 12-game thrill show that was this year’s state championship weekend at Haas Pavilion. There were plenty winners over the weekend, but none bigger than the CIF. In the third year of the format that includes an Open Division, this was the weekend it was waiting for.
Seven of the 12 games were decided by single-digit margins, five were decided by four points or less. Four of the games needed overtime, three of them needed TWO overtimes. There were six (!) first-time state champions, and five other schools who played in their first state final.
And the two Open Championship games were both perfect closers to the weekend, each one pitting the top two ranked teams in the state and featuring some of the talent in the country. And lastly, the North and South each won six games.
It was the epitome of everything the CIF wanted to accomplish with the Open Division. It was also a lot of fun to watch, photograph and write stories about. It sure made for one fun issue to put together.
We aren’t total converts to this current format, but if every future state championship weekend can come close to that of 2015’s, then we’re not going to bash it too much.
THE BIG 1-0-0
Next week we will turn 100, as in our 100th issue. And it’s sort of a big deal, which we plan to celebrate. We’d like elicit your help in celebrating. As part of the issue, we’re going to be compiling lists of the Top 25 athletes and the Top 25 teams that we’ve covered over our first 100 issues.
If any of you loyal readers have thoughts on who should be included on those lists — and let’s not kid one another, we know you do — then send us an email with your nominations. You can also tweet to @SportStarsMag using the hashtag #SSM100. We will make a special note of which athlete and team received the most reader support.
Also, if you had a favorite SportStars cover over these past five years, please feel free to share that too.
Now, we’re off to buy a cake big enough for 100 candles.
By Chace Bryson
SportStars Magazine: High School Sports Articles Online SportStars is your go-to source for the very best high school sports articles in California. Player and team profiles, game coverage, health and fitness tips and the largest Camps, Clinics & Combine resource for athletes. We're the story behind the stats.