North Hills boys basketball ready to play up to competition

Thursday, December 21, 2017 | 10:33 PM

With the first two-year cycle of six classifications nearing its end after this season, the PIAA announced the enrollment parameters for the next two-year cycle and where each school will be classified for the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.

As always, athletic programs have the opportunity to play “up” a classification. It is rare, but based on recent success, that is what some programs have decided to do. One of them being the North Hills boys basketball team.

Based on their numbers, the Indians can move down to Class 5A but have elected to remain in Class 6A.

“District administration met to discuss the pros and cons of each classification, and we collectively decided to remain in 6A for at least the next classification cycle,” North Hills athletic director Amy Scheuneman said.

The move to remain in the same section they have been successful in over the past three years was crucial to Indians coach Buzz Gabos. Although North Hills doesn't have the same firepower it did in recent years, Gabos believes moving down to Class 5A wouldn't be any easier, so staying in 6A and maintaining rivalries was crucial in the decision.

“One of the reasons was the rivalries,” Gabos said. “I think our guys are excited to stay in our section and play the same teams and developed rivalries with all those teams. Everyone is familiar with one another. That is a good thing. We will see how it turns out. At the end of the two years, we will still be at 5A with our numbers. We will re-evaluate, but hopefully it is a good decision.”

The decision to stay put has trickled down all the way to the students in elementary school at North Hills. These are the students who continuously come to the high school games and see the excitement of playing current rivals. That is a tradition that Scheuneman, Gabos, and the rest of the administration wanted to keep.

Another reason for the decision was the number of players required for a basketball team. Unlike football, soccer, baseball, or any other sport, only a handful of players are needed for basketball to maintain a competitive advantage.

“It is different than most sports because you don't need as many guys,” Gabos said. “To remain competitive, you don't need as many guys.

“This is where we want to be. It is going to force our guys to work as hard, if not harder than in the past. The section itself will be a little smaller. We won't start section play as early as we used to which is nice.”

The next two-year cycle will go a long way to determine what the Indians will do in the future. The enrollment numbers will continue to take a hit, according to Gabos, and probably put them back in the Class 5A range heading into the future beyond the next two years.

“Our numbers will take a hit and won't be close to Class 6A,” Gabos said. “We are going to take our chances and see what happens.”

Drew Karpen is a freelance writer.


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