MIAA may expand Division 4 fields

By Anthony Guliza
Globe Correspondent / January 6, 2011

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FRANKLIN — MIAA assistant director Tony Romano and the basketball committee said yesterday they are exploring the possibility of expanding the Division 4 tournaments to include central and western Massachusetts schools.

Previously, only Eastern Massachusetts teams competed in Division 4, with the boys’ and girls’ titles determined at the Garden on the day of the mythical Eastern Massachusetts championships. The New Mission boys and Cohasset girls took home last season’s titles. If the change was in effect last winter, New Mission and Cohasset would have advanced to a state title game in Worcester, similar to Divisions 1-3.

The matter will be discussed further at the statewide Division 4 Alignment sub-committee meeting Jan. 18.

“We’re looking to explore whether there is a feasibility that we could do this statewide,’’ Romano said. “And we’re looking to explore this because we’re getting some interest from the smaller schools in central and western Mass. When they advance in the tournament, they end up going against larger schools.’’

In addition, the committee briefly discussed exploring a Super Eight tournament for basketball, similar to the format in ice hockey. The top eight teams in the state would participate. All talks of a super eight tournament were preliminary, and will further be discussed at the meeting in April. The Super Eight basketball idea will be discussed further in April.

“We would take the best teams and put them in a double elimination tournament,’’ Romano said. “Conceivably, you can be a Division 2 school that has such outstanding talent that they might consider for the tournament. This is the first time that the committee has introduced this and it’s not going to have any real discussion until the April meeting.’’

Although the idea was discussed, Romano added there are several obstacles to hurdle for this idea to come to fruition.

“You have to have structure — you have to have some sort of recommendation process,’’ Romano said. “There’s a lot of work to be done before we could even crystallize what it might look like.’’

Methuen athletic director Jim Weymouth said he would like to see a Super Eight format.

“I think it’s a good idea, I like the way hockey does it,’’ he said. “It gives some of the elite teams the opportunity to play better competition right away, rather than going through first round games which are often lopsided.

“It’s going to take some time to develop a system that works and each year the teams can change. You might need a few more teams than [in] hockey, but I like the idea.’’