Boys Basketball: Everett at Stanwood, 2.5.20

Head coach Zach Ward talks to his team during Stanwood's 84-49 win over Everett on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

High school state tournaments for all team sports will be seeded by a committee instead of by computer rankings, the WIAA executive board decided earlier this month.

The new seeding format will go into effect starting this fall. 

Football has been seeded by a committee the past two seasons. 

“Based on that success, the RPI committee recommended and the WIAA Executive Board approved that seeding committees world be utilized on each team sport starting this upcoming school year,” WIAA Assistant Executive Director Cindy Adsit said in a video statement released Tuesday.

Now basketball, soccer, softball, baseball and volleyball will follow suit. Previously, the teams were seeded using a computerized Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) ranking system, which considers each team’s win-loss record and strength of schedule.

The seeding committees, like for football, are made up of coaches, athletic directors, administrators and media. The committees meet following district tournaments and use the RPI ranking as a guide along with a team’s win-loss record, MaxPreps.com rankings and coach/media polls.

Each classification, sport and gender will have its own separate seeding committee.

Applications for the committees are due May 27 and the committees will be selected by June 15 for members to “have a chance to evaluate teams over the summer,” Adsit said. 

However, she noted, that depends on the status of Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order.

The human-powered seeding route should help avoid pitfalls such as first-round matchups for teams from the same league and unfair travel distances, WIAA officials said.

The new system only affects state seeding. Teams will still need to qualify for state at districts or regionals, like they’ve always done.

“First of all, I think adding the human element is great,” Stanwood boys basketball head coach Zach Ward said. “My concern is that there might not be that incentive to play those really good nonleague games anymore. I hate seeing that.”

Ward said that if the Spartans wanted a top RPI seed heading into state, they would have needed to schedule tough games.

“Then, if we took care of business, we knew we would get a good seed. We had some control over it,” Ward said. “Is the committee really going to go through each team’s nonleague games and really dissect them? I’m curious to see how much weight that RPI carries with them.”

Stanwood volleyball coach Megan Amundson said she hopes the committee will still use the RPI when considering to adjust rankings.

“In general, I think RPI is good, but it has drawbacks because it’s just numbers,” she said, adding that an unlucky pairing in an early season tournament can have lasting effects to a team’s RPI at the end of a season. 

“I think it’ll be nice to have a human element,” she said. “I think they’re moving in the right direction. It’ll be a hard job for whoever gets it, but it will help correct for those unseen things numbers can’t show.” 

Ward agrees.  

“I think it's good that they are trying it, I like that they're open to change,” he said. “There's an effort to fix it, that's what’s exciting. I think it’s movement toward the right direction.

State basketball tournaments may change

The WIAA is asking people to take a survey on its website — wiaa.com — to "create a more intriguing state tournament," according to officials. 

The WIAA's State Basketball Format Committee agreed in November to review the current  format and brainstorm alternatives. The committee is soliciting feedback via the survey through May 20.

WIAA passes 18 amendments

The WIAA announced Monday the 53-member Representative Assembly approved 18 amendments to the state’s rule book.

One of the changes involves taking away 5 seconds. Boys basketball will implement 30-second shot clocks, the same as college. Boys have had a 35-second shot clock since 2009. Before then, they did not use a shot clock. Girls have had a 30-second shot clock since 1974. 

Other changes include allowing volleyball to schedule two more matches to their regular-season schedule, bringing the total to 18; allowing the Executive Board to add a trial period for a new activity, such as lacrosse; the creation of a transfer window for students between middle school and high school; and allowing a wrestler to compete in as many as six matches in a day, increasing from a limit of five.

To see the complete list of amendments, click here.

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at ecaldwell@scnews.com and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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