Only one of two Vancouver private school senior boys basketball teams advance to the regional Lower Mainland zone tournament next week, meaning St. George's and Vancouver College battled it out for the coveted spot Wednesday. The game wasn't just played on the hardwood, however. A political challenge is ongoing.
The independent school sports association appealed to the Lower Mainland and B.C. boys basketball executives to create a second private school team berth at the regional tournament set for next week, which also qualifies five teams for the provincial championships.
A specially appointed committee denied the appeal and that decision was upheld Monday by the B.C. executive. The Board of Governors will also rule on the appeal. Last year, a back door playoff was created for the second-place independent school team to challenge for a spot at the Lower Mainland tournament. Once Vancouver College advanced in a best-of-three series, St. George's played three public schools, including two games against Kits, but lost.
James Johnston, president of the B.C. High School Boys Basketball Association, said he understands the frustration of the two Vancouver private schools.
"The unfortunate reality for the independent schools is that there are only two of them in a very large zone. The tradition of our association has been to use simple math to create berthing with the belief that that removes a lot of the politics from it. If you do the math for the independents, they only get one berth to the Lower Mainland championship."
The St. George's Saints and Vancouver College Fighting Irish are ranked No. 3 and 4 in the province, respectively. "We had to take the rankings as one piece of information and compare that to the records of both teams, compare that to who they had both played and then make that part of a larger discussion," said Johnston.
He said fair geographic representation has been a hallmark of the B.C. boys high school provincial championship since its inception more than 65 years ago. In other zones, such as the Fraser Valley, private schools compete alongside public schools. In Vancouver, private and public schools play in distinct leagues.