The basketball season won’t get any longer, just a little more exciting.
For the first time, teams are allowed to play 22 regular season games.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted in 2011 to add two games beginning with the 2012-13 season. The length of the season won’t be expanded, meaning teams will play more games in the same amount of time.
“If you have a veteran team, I’m sure you like the 22-game season,” veteran St. Peter’s coach Pat Durham said. “The second half of the season can sometimes drag, especially if you are practicing four or five times a week.”
Ontario took advantage of the additional games by adding a four-team holiday classic Dec. 21 and 22. The Warriors, Lexington, Hillsdale and Norwalk will participate in the two-day event.
“The 22-game schedule allows you to do some things you typically couldn’t do in a 20-game season,” Ontario coach Joe Balogh said. “Hillsdale has been a very good team in the Wayne County League and Norwalk has one of the best teams in the region.”
Oddly, Lexington will play three straight games at Ontario in late December. The Minutemen play Norwalk on Dec. 21, Hillsdale on Dec. 22 in the Ontario Holiday Classic, then return to Ontario to take on the Warriors in a regularly-scheduled game Dec. 29.
“I don’t mind the 22-game schedule, but it really loads up on double-weekends for us,” first-year Lex coach Scott Hamilton said. “We don’t play mid-week games, so everything is on Friday or Saturday. We have nine back-to-back weekends in a 13-week season.”
Mansfield Senior added defending Division II state champ Dayton Dunbar and Division I powerhouse Columbus Northland to its schedule. The Tygers host Dunbar on Dec. 21 and play Northland at Capital University on Jan. 26.
“This gave us the opportunity to go out and schedule games against two of the best programs in the state,” first-year Senior High coach J.T. Reese said. “We’ve seen those teams in the summer and this gives us a chance to play them with something on the line.”
Madison’s two additional games are against Norwalk and Olentangy Orange.
“To be honest, I’m not for it,” first-year Madison coach Tim Mergel said. “I thought 20 games was plenty. You either have to add a mid-week game or add another back-to-back weekend. I would rather use the time to watch film or practice, but I’m sure the kids will enjoy it.”
One concern, at least for school administrators, is the possibility of rescheduling games. Winters in north central Ohio can be unpredictable.
“I’m sure there are a lot of athletic directors out there hoping for a mild winter,” Durham said. “A tough winter would wreak havoc on the schedule.”