Who knew that such an elementary drawing would create such a high school-sized headache?
The IHSA may not move at the speed of light, but occasionally the boys (and girls) in Bloomington get it right.
Remember the flap over the Class 4A girls volleyball sectional at Neuqua Valley in the fall? The 23-team sectional that was overnight converted into four ridiculously unbalanced regionals?
The IHSA claimed the move was necessary to accommodate Yorkville, which was bumped up to 4A by the association's new 25-25-25-25 enrollment split when assigning schools to certain sports. The IHSA said that Yorkville was not located in the "Chicagoland Box."
The move sent Oswego East, Oswego, Plainfield East, Plainfield North and Yorkville to Plainfield North; Bolingbrook, Lemont, Lockport. Plainfield Central. Plainfield South and Romeoville to Romeoville; and Aurora East, Metea Valley, Rosary and West Aurora to Waubonsie Valley.
That left Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Benet, Naperville Central, Neuqua Valley and Naperville North in one regional at Central. Three of the top four teams in the sectional - Benet, Central and Naperville North - in one six-team regional.
There was thought at the time that the IHSA would not treat boys basketball similarly, thus incurring the wrath of dozens of athletic directors and coaches and hundreds and hundreds of fans, and lo and behold, it did not.
But at least Bloomington promises to do things differently when volleyball rolls around again in the fall.
The IHSA offered that the "box" was created at a time when all the team sports were the same classes, so the teams competing in Class 4A did not change from softball to basketball to volleyball, so the box was literally drawn around the schools who fell within a certain proximity.
Back then, Yorkville was Class 3A and would likely going south or west for its sectional. However, now that classifications may change sport by sport, schools change classes more often and increase the odds of a school outside the box being grouped in a sectional with schools inside the box.
The IHSA re-evaluated the policy after the volleyball situation. The policy has language that states, "In 4A bracketed team sports, the Executive Director is authorized to modify the state series brackets to accommodate unique travel situations."
The IHSA promises that each situation will be evaluated case-by-case in the future. However, executive director Marty Hickman did say that those involving Yorkville will result in complexes in all sports moving forward.
Thus, basketball sectionals involving Yorkville will remain sectional complexes and teams will not be grouped into four regionals.
That's certainly good news for boys teams like Benet, West Aurora and Naperville Central, and girls teams like Bolingbrook and Romeoville, which otherwise might have (following the volleyball model) been assigned to the same regionals regardless of potential seeding.
Hopefully, volleyball will enjoy the same executive discretion.