Each week a state panel of sportswriters and broadcasters rates Ohio high school boys and girls basketball teams throughout the state. The exercise, known as the Associated Press state poll, ranks the teams, separating them by the four OHSAA divisions.
AP members, who include the Record-Courier, may not necessarily get an official vote, but are invited to send in suggestions and recommendations to the Columbus bureau for distribution to the 22 voting members. The weekly announcement of the rankings is published for seven weeks, with the final rankings announced on the last week of the regular season.
DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
Years ago not all high school basketball teams participated in the state tournaments and the OHSAA football playoffs did not begin until 1972.
Therefore, maybe it made some sense for sportswriters to rank teams. Now that all 801 schools participate in the state tournaments and four divisional winners will be crowned by their performance on the floor of Value City Arena on March 23, why is it necessary to rank teams throughout the regular season?
The Mogadore football team that finished the regular season 10-0 this year was voted the AP poll state champions in Division VI. However, the Wildcats were eliminated in the state semifinals by eventual runner-up Newark Catholic.
I remember a reporter asking Mogadore football head coach Matt Adorni about being crowned poll champions this year and he actually laughed about the award. He stated that his players and coaches don't pay any attention to the polls because it means nothing. His point? If you want a championship, you win it on the field.
How can 22 voters throughout the state in this ranking system really evaluate teams that might be located in the other corner of the state?
WHERE ARE PTC TEAMS?
Each week as I open Tuesday's edition of the Record-Courier, I expect to see Windham and Mogadore at least picking up some points in the AP's Division IV poll because they keep winning.
Both the Bombers and Wildcats reached the regional tournaments last year and with some luck could once again make an appearance in Canton.
Each week, sports editor Tom Nader volunteers numbers on these two vote-worthy PTC teams, but apparently the 22 voters don't believe they deserve recognition. Unfortunately, the poll is more political than you would like to think. That is probably another reason that most coaches don't read much in the rankings.
Bristol (12-0) is currently ranked fourth in the Division IV poll. Windham and Bristol are both assigned to the Warren Harding district so they could meet on the hardwood to settle that.
Also listed in the Division IV AP poll is Cleveland Villa Angela St. Joe (ranked 2nd) and Richmond Heights (8th). Those two teams should battle for the Garfield Heights district tournament title with a trip to Canton going to the winner. If Windham wins the Warren district and advances to the regional, it would be matched up against the Garfield Heights winner.
If Mogadore wins the Struthers district it would be faced with possibly meeting Berlin Hiland again. Hiland eliminated the Wildcats last year in the Canton regional and went on to win the state championship. Hiland is the only team to beat Windham this year in the first 14 games.
Tournament drawings and seeds are conducted Sunday, Feb. 10.
METRO DIVISION SHOWDOWNS
There are several showdowns slated for Friday night in the Metro Division.
Springfield won only four games last season and could probably receive the Comeback Team of the Year award this season. The Spartans are now 9-5 and have won eight of their last 10 games. They will travel to division-leader Norton on Friday in what could be a good game.
Streetsboro will host Ravenna on the Rockets' hardwood and Coventry will host Kent Roosevelt
Both of those games favor the home teams, however, both Ravenna and Roosevelt could shake up the division standings with upsets.
The Bombers have won 13- of-14 games and six in a row. They now have the opportunity to put together an extended streak when you look at their approaching schedule. But the Bombers will finish the season with four pretty tough games when they travel to Mogadore, LaBrae and Southeast before hosting Garfield in the season finale.
COUNTY DIVISION GAME OF WEEK
Woodridge will travel to Southeast ON Friday night in an important game for the Pirates. Southeast won the first matchup on the BulldogS' floor 67-66 at the buzzer. Woodridge lost last week to Windham, which was the Bulldogs' fourth division setback and probably eliminated them from contention, but that doesn't mean the Dogs couldn't be a spoiler.
Meanwhile, Mogadore will host Garfield on Friday. The Wildcats are only one step behind the Bombers and will travel to Woodridge and Southeast in the next two games.
The Wildcats better not overlook the G-Men because Garfield has the ability to spring an upset. Garfield (4-9, 4-4 PTC County) has lost six of its last eight games, but I think the G-Men are primed for a great performance on Friday.