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MIAA likely to allow basketball teams to move up a division

Moving up a division will be much easier then moving down for western Massachusetts basketball teams appealing the alignments recently released by the MIAA.

The realignment, which expands WMass and central Mass. from three divisions to four, features significant movement in terms of divisions and regions.

Andrew Linkenhoker, the chairman of the western Massachusetts basketball committee, said the state tournament committee is likely to be responsive to teams wishing to move to a higher division — if, for example, Northampton wished to remain in Division 1 instead of moving down to D-2 in the realignment — than the other way around.

“My experience as a new committee member last year was that appeals for teams to move up a division were more successful then appeals to move down a division,” Linkenhoker said in an email earlier this week. “I wouldn’t say they are automatic, but the committee would be more favorable in my opinion with this type of request.”

Official appeals will be brought to the state basketball committee beginning with the first meeting of the season on Oct. 17.

Linkenhoker, the creator of the revamped Walker 2.0 seeding system first implemented last year, said the addition of teams from CMass to WMass — Fitchburg, Leominster, Shepherd Hill, North Middlesex, Quabbin Regional, Tantasqua Regional, Narragansett Regional, Quaboag Regional, Montachusett Tech, Murdock, North Brookfield and North Central Charter — will not change the system in any way.

Smart Division 1 programs from CMass that play in the WMass tournament will look to schedule games against the Valley League in boys basketball and the Valley Wheel in girls. Those are considered the power conferences in WMass and games against them count extra toward strength of schedule.

“The one potential drawback will be for (Division 1) schools who do not play those (power conference) schools and (do not) get those ‘bonus points,’” he said. “However, the same could be said for some of the Berkshire schools that do not play these same schools.”

Linkenhoker said he hasn’t received any direct feedback since the alignments were released, but is aware of some schools unhappy with their placement.

“If I was to characterize the reactions, I’d say they are in response to traditions,” Linkenhoker said. “It’s difficult to break traditions and I respect that, however the proposal was grounded in doing what’s best for our student-athletes.”

AMHERST HALL OF FAME — The ARHS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is set for Saturday night at the UMass Student Union Ballroom. The event starts at 6 p.m.

This year inductees include the 1959 football team for their undefeated season, and the following athletes spanning the 1940s-1990s: Frank Kuzmiski, James Parkinson, Steve Peene, Nadine Jackson, Rhonda Jackson, Mario Lopez, Shawn Durocher Chalmers, Jen Pariseau, Betty Lawson, Robbie Russell, Colleen Schmitt and James Ihedigbo.

GAME OF THE WEEK — South Hadley at Longmeadow golf, Twin Hills Country Club, today, 3 p.m.

Two of the top teams in WMass square off when the Tigers (7-1, 2-0 Valley Wheel) head to Longmeadow (10-1, 5-0) this afternoon. South Hadley will have to deal with a tough home-course advantage for the Lancers, who are coming off an impressive score of 229 at Twin Hills Tuesday against Agawam. The Tigers best performance of the year so far was a 237 on their home course of The Ledges on Sept. 14 against Chicopee.

MISC. — Two varsity basketball programs have hired new head coaches for the winter. Spencer Goldsmith, a former girls assistant, takes over the boys program at Holyoke Catholic. Frank Keimig, a former girls assistant, is now the girls head coach at Frontier Regional.

Jim Pignatiello can be reached at jpignatiello@gazettenet.com.

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