With the Eastern District Board of the Ohio High School Athletic Association opting to do a two-year trial with a "super district", it results in both Beaver Local and East Liverpool having to put in a lot of miles. The "super district" in Division II combines the Ohio University Eastern sectional with the Zanesville sectional, setting up a 20-team affair.
Unlike in the past, when the coaches got together and voted for the seeding of the teams in-person, this year the voting was all done online. With a 20-team "super district", coaches voted on teams which they knew very little, if anything, about. With these teams being so spread out, it was impossible to know very much about all of them.
Coaches from both schools still had to make the approximately 200-mile round trip to Cambridge on a blustery, snowy Sunday afternoon for a 45-minute meeting. This was so that they could place their teams on the bracket sheet for the Division II sectional/district affair.
Dover (15-2) was seeded first, followed by New Concord John Glenn (15-3), Steubenville (15-3), Uhrichsville Claymont (14-4), with Millersburg West Holmes (12-4) rounding out the top five. East Liverpool (13-5) was followed by Duncan Falls Philo (11-7), Byesville Meadowbrook (11-8), Cambridge (10-9) and Beaver Local (11-8) in the 10th spot.
On Friday, Feb. 21, East Liverpool will play the winner of the Indian Creek-Carrollton game at 8 p.m. at Zanesville High School. The Indian Creek-Carrollton game will be played on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Zanesville. If East Liverpool wins on February 21, they will play second-seeded John Glenn at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28. This game will also be in Zanesville.
"Thankfully, we have a large group of loyal fans," said East Liverpool head coach Nate Conley. "Our fans travel well, so I'm sure we will have large group behind us, even though it is quite a ways to travel for a opening-round game. The facility at Zanesville is beautiful."
Beaver Local takes on Philo at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at Ohio University Eastern. If the Beavers prevail, they will play the winner of a trio of teams. The winner of Steubenville-Warsaw River View will play Tuscarawas Valley for the right to play the Beaver Local-Philo winner at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 1 at Ohio University Eastern.
"We don't know much about them," said Beaver Local head coach Jeremy Christen, when asked about Philo. "From what we have already seen in a video, we should be able to match up with them. They are very disciplined and average about 44-45 points per game."
East Liverpool played Carrollton in the season-opener, defeating a hot-shooting Warrior team 64-61.
"We are a totally different basketball team from back then," said Conley. "I am happy with our draw. I think we can do well."
Being a first-year head coach, Christen said, "This is all new to me. I wasn't involved in the voting and drawing before, so I have nothing with which to compare this way of doing things. I did get the idea from some of the older coaches that by doing the voting and seeding online, that much of the camaraderie is gone."
The Northeast District Board is also trying something new this year. The higher-seeded team in each of the sectional games gets to play their games at home. The reasoning behind this format is that the home team should be able to provide a good crowd, as opposed to playing at a neutral site.
It will be interesting to see which format results in larger crowds.