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Newtown High School’s basketball team, seeded 21st, will begin Division II state playoff action with a visit to No. 12 Ledyard in the first round, on March 6, beginning at 6 pm. The winner of the Newtown-Ledyard game earns a visit to fifth-seeded Pomperaug of Southbury, scheduled for Thursday. The divisional format is new this year. Newtown previously competed in Class LL, the largest of the four school sizes.
A proposal from the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) Boys’ Basketball Committee to expand the boys’ basketball championships from four divisions to five and alter the way those divisions are determined was approved by the Board of Control at its September 21, 2017, meeting for a one-year trial beginning with the 2017-18 championship. Prior to the vote from the Board of Control the proposal was shared with and vetted by all leagues and conferences, as well as the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association.
Under the new format schools have been placed in divisions using a group of factors including recent success in CIAC tournament and league championship play, the overall strength of the league in which they compete, and their power point ranking over the past three seasons (determined by sum of wins of opponents they defeated).
“This new format is the result of a lot of hard work from members of our boys basketball committee and aims to address the concerns we’ve heard from our membership about inequity challenges specific to the boys’ basketball tournament,” Connecticut Association of Schools-CIAC Executive Director Karissa Niehoff stated in a September 21 press release.
All the schools in Division I qualified for the CIAC tournament, while a winning percentage of .400 was required for tournament qualification in the other four divisions.
“I think it’s a great way to start and I think it’s going to be positive for the state,” Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch said of the new format.
The format, much like boys’ hockey, which also uses a divisional system while most sport teams still participate in brackets based on school size, is not without possible flaws considering graduation changes the experience-level of teams, and injuries come into play during the course of the season.
Tallcouch, who serves on the All-State Selection Committee and with the All Star Game Selection Committee, along with members of the CIAC Boys’ Basketball Committee, and said the format will be vetted and tweaked in the offseason in order to add more teams, possibly to Division I, and consider teams with seven wins qualifying for the states in the other divisions.