For The Win: What Connecticut’s girls basketball coaches think of state tournament rule

This season five teams have moved up in class. Not because of enrollment, but because they’ve been successful in the state tournament. Introduced this season is a rule that requires all schools that can draw talent from any town other than the one they are located in, like private and project choice schools, to move up a class if they reach the quarterfinals two out of the last three seasons. If they go three out of the last three seasons, they must move up two classes. After they’ve moved up, if they fail to reach the quarterfinals in two, or three, of the next three seasons, they will move back down.

Some are calling this the “Capital Prep Rule,” because of how the Trail Blazers ran through the Class S tournament, picking up victories of  79-21 over Old Saybrook, 100-27 over and 94-36 over Morgan. Some coaches say its fair, some unfair. Read below to see what some of the state’s coaches think of the new rule.

Haddam-Killingworth coach Jim Bombaci  thinks the new rules are…: An improvement.

Why?: Public schools not punished for having a good season.

Foran coach Scott Nails thinks the new rules are…: In place (Capital Prep Rule), because CIAC doesn’t want to see a team like (Capital Prep) beat up on teams like Morgan & Thomaston. They complained, so now the Class S Championship is safe. Where were these rules when Hillhouse won 3 in a row or Career made it to the finals for a number of years? They were Class L or LL. When Capital Prep started in the CSC they were getting beat soundly ever game. Why no rule changes until they start winning? Ansonia dominates Class S in football every year, but still no rule changes.
Where are these rules in any other sports in CT except basketball? Notre Dame (Fairfield) was in the Class M final last year, but this year Class S? Too inconsistent with rules. We should talk about the other issues 1st that should be addressed:
1. Starting the Monday before Thanksgiving. (Too Late)
2. In the State Tournament pairings all private, magnet or school of choice put together. 5 of 8 teams in the State Championship games were schools of choice. 3 schools were all in the previous year (Capitol Prep, Mercy & Bacon Academy).

Hand coach Tim Tredwell thinks the new rules are…: What they are.

Why?: No matter what system exists, people will be unhappy. Should private schools/schools of choice be in their own tournament while public schools are in another? Maybe. Should we go back to old school Indiana high school rules and throw everyone in one big tournament? Why not? I’m not an administrator and I don’t make the rules. I’m a coach. Tell me who we play and we’ll get after it.

Derby coach Dave Chevarella thinks the new rules are…: Okay

Why?: Schools that can draw players from other towns should have different standards than public schools.

Sheehan coach Mike Busillo thinks the new rules are…: Fair

Why?: I’m not happy that we are class L with an enrollment of just over 450, but it is what it is.  I’d like to see a team like Capital Prep with the choice to go to LL, if they wanted to.

Ansonia  coach Patrick Lynch thinks the new rules are…: Not bad, but all private schools should still have their enrollment doubled.

Why?: Private schools can select/recruit from the entire state or at least a 30-45 minute distance from their school to bring any student/athlete to their school, so unless you let them have their own tournament, then their enrollment should be at least doubled or have them all play in Class LL or L.

Amity  coach Michelle Martinik thinks the new rules are…: Great.

Why?: It is not fair for schools that can “recruit” to be in with schools with 200 girls.  However, this is putting all the good “choice” schools in LL which will lead to schools that are not a choice, but have a good team that year, almost impossible to win.

Mercy  coach Tim Kohs thinks the new rules are…:  An improvement over the previous system.

Why?: The fact that you have to have some level of success in order to move up is better than doubling the enrollment of every school of choice. Many teams were forced up without being a dominant or even competitive team in their actual classification.

SOUND OFF (Closes 12/13 noon)



  1. Don Agosto says

    Bacon Academy is not a school of choice and it is not private. People mistakenly think that because of the name of the school.

    • Kent says

      Well, Kaynor Tech did pretty good for the last couple seasons…so while I’m not sure in general, Tech Schools do produce some teams that can reasonably compete in the state

  2. jeb says

    The new rule is good……it will level the playing field. Remember basketball is not like footbal..all you need to do is recruit one or two top flight players and your’e in the finals.

    The best rule book change was the alternating possession rule especially in girls basketball. Most girls games have between 25 and 30 possession arrow changes. Twenty years ago they would have a jump ball to determine possessions. The girls game took almost twice as long to play as a boys game.l

  3. Commenter says

    The new rule is much better. One thing not mentioned – whenever a girl goes to a private school, it really hurts the public schools as well. You are losing one of your best players, and a team in your own division just got a lot better. It’s a two-way swing – far more significant than just your opponent getting better, you also get worse. And this is basketball, losing/gaining just one player makes a very big difference.

    And don’t kid yourself about recruiting. Even if the coaches aren’t allowed to “recruit”, parents of current students ask around, AAU buddies plan to play together, and some kids simply want to play for a good team that gets deep in the state tournament every year. Also, occasionally kids tend to avoid the bad teams if they can, and it can take a long time for a town team to recover when they lose some kids that were in the town program for years.

    Note its not just the private schools. The Vo-Ag schools, the magnet schools, and even the landing spots for the charter schools can get extra players.

  4. Mike says

    First of all, the number of students that go to a school of choice solely for the purposes of athletics is extremely small. So this concept of recruiting I feel is blown out of proportion. Now all things being equal, a student that has the potential to play at the collegiate level is going to want to play on a successful program, which could drive them to chose a school other than the public school that they should attend. Let’s not be mistaken though, that could be another public school. All they do is put Grandma’s or Aunt Sue’s address as their address and Voila, they go to public school X when their real home is in Public School Y’s geographical area. If you think this does not happen you are fooling yourself. To have a rule that targets only private schools and other schools of choice is discriminatory. You might just as well spot the public school’s team 10 points.
    Also, this rule is completely ineffective for Class LL. There is no place to move them to. So why should a class S, M or L private school have to get penalized by moving up a class when a Class LL school will never be penalized.

    • Henry C says

      Thats a great point Mike. I really think the best way is to just separate them all, public and schools of choice. I don’t think that’ll ever happened tho. This rule is fine, voters said its fair, but I still feel like its just a band-aid when surgery might be what the doctor ordered.

    • Commenter says

      > This concept of recruiting I feel is blown out of proportion

      Not so sure I agree. In girls soccer, NW Catholic, Immaculate, and St Joe’s are always powerhouses. In basketball, Mercy has girls that would be stars in any public school sitting the bench year after year. Lauralton Hall was the runner up last year. Capital Prep probably was the best team overall, followed by Career Magnet. The top four teams last year all drew from outside their area. It’s not as pronounced in boys sports, but in girls sports, where there is not a lot of talent to go around, losing / gaining one player has a very large effect on competitive balance.

      I don’t want to see the private schools play in their own divisions, but I am glad that there is now a rule to move them to the larger classes. It really is only fair.

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