Vancouver Berths Reassigned

Regrettably, the Vancouver League of the Sea to Sky Zone have had their 2 Tourney berths and 1 Wildcard berth to the 27th Annual Grade 9 Boys Basketball Invitational Tournament reassigned.

Since our inception, the 27th Annual Grade 9 Boys Basketball Invitational Tournament has been scheduled the same weekend as the Senior Girls Basketball Provincials and 1 week before the Senior Boys Basketball Provincials.

Our goal has always been to provide equal and fair opportunities for all zones (and leagues) and their players to participate in the Grade 9 Tournament. For these past 26 years, we have established an annual cutoff date that enables us to organize the Grade 9 Tournament to run smoothly and efficiently.

Whenever a zone (or league) could not meet our timeline and deadline date and needed several extra days, we always found a way to accommodate.

This year the Vancouver League extended their dates and scheduled their last league games and their playoffs in the same week that the Annual Grade 9 Boys Tournament occurs.
Link to Vancouver League Schedule ending Monday Feb. 26.

This year the Vancouver League ends their schedule Monday Feb. 26 and then their playoffs carry on towards the end of the same week, overlapping into the Grade 9 Tournament that begins Thursday Feb. 29. Our Thursday 12 game opening day schedule is followed by 40 more games including Specialty Events, Banquet, 3×3 Tournament and Awards Ceremony over the next 3 days, finishing Sunday late afternoon, Mar 3.

We had hoped that by accommodating the Vancouver League last year (as we have in a number of previous years) and providing ample notice for this year, that the Vancouver League’s team representatives would be in place by the cutoff time, that our deadline of Wednesday Feb. 21 would be respected. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Please refer to last year’s 2023 Tourney Info, link to the Vancouver Sea to Sky Zone (see the section mid page).

Sadly, with the Vancouver League extending its season by another week overlapping with our Tournament start, we can not see a way through this overlap to accommodate these teams.

Last year’s temporary solution of Vancouver teams going straight into the Wildcard Tourney the weekend before only worked as there was no overlap of games the following week.

The Grade 9 Boys Annual Tournament is stronger, more representative and inclusive with Vancouver participating. We have made accommodations for the Vancouver League over the years, striving to accommodate not only the Vancouver teams but also those from the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley affected by Vancouver’s later playoffs. But its a domino effect: Vancouver finishes late, which affects the scheduling for the Wildcard, leading to last-minute late night calls with coaches for next-day games in the Wildcard tournament (a situation we’ve encountered multiple times), and impacting our tournament seeding. After considerable discussion, we ended this practice at the end of last season. Sea to Sky is the only zone in Grade 9 that does not have zone playoffs, and we adjusted again this year to follow the Junior Boys Sea to Sky Zone model by assigning berths directly to the Sea to Sky leagues.

The Annual Tournament cutoff date we set each year is 8 days before the Tournament starts. Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to shorten this timeframe. We undertake numerous tasks, such as receiving and sorting team registration documents, seeding, ordering merchandise, ensuring sufficient meals for the banquet, and handling the last-minute logistics required each year to ensure the tournament runs smoothly and efficiently. As we are all 100% volunteers, we must also balance these responsibilities with other commitments, including family, jobs and coaching. Accommodating late registrants or documents has consistently led to issues which affect the other teams and our volunteer organizers.

We understand the reasons for non -participation typically cited include concerns that the Grade 9 Tournament is unsanctioned, teams need a longer season for greater participation, and questions about the value of post-league season competition at this age level.

It is correct that the Grade 9 Boys Tournament is unsanctioned, but this is also the case for the Junior Boys and Grade 8 Boys tournaments, as well as every other non-senior end of the season event in every high school sport in BC. We note the Vancouver League has adjusted their schedule several years ago by 2 to 3 weeks earlier to accommodate the Junior Boys and we also believe the Junior Girls basketball Tournaments.

Regarding the expressed need for a longer season for Vancouver schools for greater participation, we ask the league scheduler, for next year, to possibly consider doubling up on league games for only 2 weeks during the season to allow for an earlier finish or perhaps organizing another end-of-season tournament excluding the teams that have advanced.

As for concerns that Grade 9 is too early to focus on post-league competition, we don’t agree but we respect this philosophical stance. This link 2023 Final Game at EMS to last year’s Grade 9 Tournament Finals supports our belief that post-season competition at this age level is both appropriate and exciting, akin to the competitive spirit encouraged at the BC Summer Games even for earlier age levels.

We are always open to any ideas to make this work and keep Vancouver teams involved as the Grade 9 Tournament and Vancouver schools can only benefit from their inclusion. However, we do wish to avoid repeating this discussion in subsequent years.

We do know scheduling and this matter of overlap was discussed at the Vancouver League annual meeting last spring. And we wish the Vancouver league would have advised their coaches and teams of this scheduling overlap the beginning of this season rather than players and parents learning of this over the past 2 weeks.

Our Tournament date is fixed, this is a Vancouver League scheduling issue.

We do hope a solution can be reached for the future not just for the Vancouver players and the Grade 9 Tournament but for other reasons, Vancouver teams have participated for 26 years, many doing very well, with many Vancouver players being recognized for their fine play, Kitsilano has hosted many times as well the Grade 9 Tourney Founder/Tournament Director is an east end school grad and former player and coach (Killarney) and another key Tourney Director is a current Vancouver coach and soon to be teacher.

Link to Vancouver League and its information
The Vancouver Secondary Schools Athletic Association (VSSAA)

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