More madness this March

March Madness will be a little crazier this basketball season.

More teams and more kids are involved in playoff basketball in B.C. this year.

Maple Ridge Ramblers head coach Ken Dockendorf is one of the main architects behind the new format that has seen the AAAA division added for the first time this season.

He and Paul Eberhardt, another veteran of the B.C. high school basketball hoops wars, headed a committee that restructured the system. Not out to reinvent the wheel, they admittedly borrowed heavily from the model used in Washington State high school basketball.

The new system balances out the divisions of teams in the province. There had been about 55 single-A teams, 75 double-A teams, and there was a huge 105 triple-A division.

“There were way too many schools competing for a limited number of berths,” said Dockendorf.

What’s more, larger schools enjoyed a significant advantage. Dockendorf’s approach was that says a larger population will produce more rocket scientists, more musicians, and more outstanding athletes. With smaller high schools forced to compete against the largest in the province, their chances of winning a championship dwindled to those rare, outlier seasons when the stars aligned perfectly in their favor.

“The bigger schools were starting to dominate more and more,” he said. “We were reaching a point where we were saying ‘we can’t honestly compete.’”

The new system has teams divided almost equally, with about 67 schools in each of the four divisions. To provide some stability, the schools are committed to their division for two-year periods, and then there can be realignment.

With an extra Fraser Valley tournament title to compete for, teams like Samuel Robertson Technical are enjoying a good run of playoff basketball this season.

“There are a lot of teams in triple A that are still playing, whose seasons would otherwise be over,” said Dockendorf.

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