On Tuesday, April 8, the Indiana High School Athletic Association announced the new classifications for boys and girls basketball for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years based on enrollment and success factor.
Sectional groupings for basketball and many other sports will be announced at the end of April following approval of the IHSAA Executive Committee.
Here are the changes for local teams and what it means for them:
New Haven, 3A to 4A
New Haven’s new rank in enrollment makes it the 100th biggest school in the state and necessitates its movement up. That isn’t a great thing for the Bulldog boys, who will likely find themselves in the always tough Sectional 5 won this year by Northrop. While the Bruins, Carroll and East Noble will all be vastly different teams next year, it is a big step up in postseason competition for New Haven. They went 0-4 this past season against likely new Sectional opponents.
If they do not end up in that Sectional, they could end up in Sectional 6. Though Sectional 5 being the more northern of the two makes that the more likely destination as does the move below.
Bishop Dwenger, 4A to 3A
It was a short stay in the higher class for the Saints, who picked up a critical postseason win over Snider this past season. Moving back down to Class 3A will have them essentially switch spots with New Haven in the postseason with the Saints headed to Sectional 22. Of those likely postseason opponents, they faced and beat just Leo and Concordia this past season. It will be the same Sectional they won last in 2015 when they advanced to semistate. With the expected rosters around this Sectional as of today, the Saints have to be considered a favorite with games against Concordia, Leo and Woodlan seeming interesting right now.
Jay County, 4A to 3A
A lot of people have long called for this move as Jay County is too outside of the ‘big city’ to contend with big time schools, but too big probably for their conference. In the last three years, Jay County was ranked 97, 98 and 100 in the state in enrollment but they are now ranked 107th. The Patriots will graduate a lot this spring, but always tend to reload and will likely be the favorite again in the ACAC. Our expectation would be that the Patriots will head to Sectional 23 to replace Marion, who will move up to Class 4A (the Giants subsequently will likely move into Sectional 6 for a showdown with Homestead).
Jay County went 1-2 against Sectional 23 with losses to Norwell and Bellmont and a win over ACAC rival Heritage. With Bishop Luers gaining traction and Will Geiger back at Norwell, the Patriots are (right now) about the third best in this Sectional in 2020.
Fairfield, 3A to 2A
The Falcons lose quite a bit to graduation as well, but bring back second leading scorer Nolin Sharick. Overall, this is a good move for the program, but maybe not yet in 2019-20, when Charlie Yoder is back for Westview and Central Noble seems loaded. The Falcons are likely to be dropped into Sectional 35 with those two teams and Prairie Heights to make it an even more NECC dominated Sectional.
Blackhawk Christian, 1A to 2A
This is the big one and the Braves certainly earned it with their Class 1A state title. Do not expect the Braves to backslide with the loss of a bunch of seniors. Why? They always reload and back are juniors-to-be Caleb Furst, Zane Burke and Marcus Davidson. Blackhawk Christian in Class 2A is intriguing. They proved, as expected, that there wasn’t much competition for them in Class 1A and their intense regular season record will have them well prepared for a postseason in Class 2A as well.
They will likely fall in Sectional 36 where Churubusco and Canterbury are likely to be their biggest competition. The Braves were 2-0 against Sectional 36 this past season with wins over Canterbury and Adams Central. If the past is any indicator, they won’t put much effort into adding Sectional opponents to the regular season.
What makes their move to Class 2A more interesting? The Regional round. Reigning Class 2A champion Andrean is in this Regional, as is the strong possibility of Westview, who could have won Regional Saturday in 2019 and beaten Andrean had it not been for a bout of food poisoning. Westview, Andrean and Blackhawk Christian in the same Regional sounds good to me.
Columbia City, 3A to 4A
The Eagle girls will join the boys in Class 4A and there is no better time to do it with a mostly full slate of returning players. The Eagles should head into Sectional 6 against the same schools their boys play against. South Side and Homestead will still rule this Sectional, but the Eagles can play competitively and may end up being the third best team in what would turn this into a six team bracket. They played just one team in this Sectional this past season, beating conference foe Huntington North.
New Haven, 3A to 4A
Like with the boys, New Haven’s ascension to the 100th biggest school in the state will have major effects on their girls too. The Bulldogs have just nine wins in the past three seasons under Andy Ross and don’t have a Sectional game with since 2005. This move, likely to a Sectional 5 won by Carroll this past season, is not a good one for the Bulldogs until they can find more successful footing. Based on results from the past 20 seasons, that will be hard to find any time soon.
Bishop Dwenger, 3A
The IHSAA lists the Saints as dropping from Class 4A. The IHSAA is wrong as the Saints competed in Class 3A this past season as well. They will stay there.
Central Noble, 2A to 3A
The big one of the girls side is a bit of a nightmare overall. Central Noble will ascend a class due to success factor after the two most successful players in program history have graduated. Winchester, who Central Noble beat for a Class 2A state title in 2018, will also move up with them to 3A and Heritage Christian will move back down to the class they won their 2016 state in. So Class 3A is getting more loaded as defending state champion Northwestern moves to 4A.
For Central Noble, the returns of Bridgette Gray, Lydia Andrews and Sam Brumbaugh are huge but there is no replacing Sydney Freeman and Meleah Leatherman. The good news is flipping spots with Fairfield is likely and landing in Sectional 21 with NECC foes West Noble and Lakeland has the Cougars in the best place to succeed in the opening round of the postseason. While moving up to 3A isn’t the best move for Central Noble, they can still be considered a top threat in this Sectional.
Fairfield, 3A to 2A
Coach Brody Garber was a win away from a state title game in 2018. Back to the drawing board, this past season was a struggle. All but two players return as of now and they will likely head to Sectional 35 to replace Central Noble. Fairfield will get to know those teams well with Prairie Heights and Westview, two NECC foes, involved. This is a great move for Fairfield, who will immediately be able to contend in this Sectional after enrollment dropped them 21 spots in the IHSAA’s ranking.