St. George's is in the Lower Mainland AAA boys' basketball tournament, but that is not the end of the ongoing controversy between public and independent schools.
Earlier this month, the Vancouver boys' school lost the single independent berth into the Lower Mainland high school AAA boys' basketball championships to No. 4-ranked Vancouver College.
Ranked third in the province, St. George's was denied a second independent berth into the zone qualifying tournament by a committee of Lower Mainland high school coaches and later also lost an appeal to the B.C. High School boys' basketball executive by a 3-2 vote.
That decision was then overturned by the association's board of governors, giving St. George's a second independent berth, said B.C. association president James Johnston.
The Lower Mainland association was sent a letter from St. George's legal counsel along with the job of drafting a tournament schedule, but the group was uncomfortable coming up with one, Johnston added.
Johnston then handed the job back to St. George's.
"I wouldn't say the Lower Mainland coaches are happy with it, but I would say it's a fair compromise," Johnston said.
Byrne Creek head coach Wayne best agreed.
"Looking at the draw, it's a fair draw," said Best, adding that this year was the independent's turn to host the tournament. "My only concern is it brings the final at St. George's."
Last year, the Lower Mainland committee sparked the controversy, voting to deny independent schools more than one berth into the provincial qualifying tournament.
The decision was based on a formula of berths according to the number of schools in each participating disrict.
At the time, St. George's protested that decision and under a makeshift qualifying formula unsuccessfully played a string of four games in four nights to try to earn a berth.
This season, the two groups were no closer to resolving their outstanding differences.
"I think we have to look for a resolution," Johnston said, adding that the current decision is unlikely to be precedent-setting.
"If this is going to happen every year, we have to figure out a proper format," agreed New Westminster Secondary athletic director Peter Battiston.
A number of years ago, two top-ranked North Shore schools, Handsworth and Argyle, were in a similar situation with just one available berth in its zone.
A way was found to accomodate both schools at the provincials, suggesting that if a team is a top-five contender there is motivation to tinker with the qualifying format to accomodate those schools
Lower Mainland coaches and athletic directors also wonder why independents and public schools have settled their differences and play under the same qualifying umbrella, while Greater Vancouver schools struggle to find common ground.
"It makes the tournament convenient for them and is unfair to all our kids. It doesn't sit well with me," Battiston said.
Best added any decision going forward has to address the issue of whether qualifying will be through a formula of representation by population or by provincial rankings. And that decision must be consistent for all zones to follow, he added.
"There needs to be consistency. What is the tournament all about? And we all have to go on those guidelines," said Best. "You can't pick and choose."
The Mainland tournament runs until March 3 at St. George's and Vancouver College schools.