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High school sports

No more KVAC championship games in most sports

Basketball, baseball, soccer, field hockey, baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse affected
By Mark Haskell | Oct 18, 2019

Times, as they say, are-a-changing for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

At the conference’s athletic directors' meeting in the spring at the Rockland Golf Club, the decision was made that, effective at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, the conference would eliminate the head-to-head team championship format in many sports.

Annually, head-to-head conference team championship games have been held in field hockey, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis and lacrosse.

In the past, the two squads which generated the greatest number of Heal Points in those sports — doled out by the Maine Principals’ Association to determine regional seeding — participated in the game, with the winner given a plaque and in-conference bragging rights for the year.

Going forward, those sports will no longer have conference team championship games or matches.

"We finally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t necessary," said Belfast Area High School athletic director Terry Kenniston.

“A lot of the venues we were using [were getting expensive to rent] and we were losing money on the events,” he said. “After you pay the cost of officials and timers and those types of things. And economically, it didn’t make a lot of sense [to continue].”

“We’re playing those games to generate money for the league,” he said. “But do the kids really benefit?”

League championship events for cheering, cross country, golf, wrestling and indoor and outdoor track and field will continue.

The league meet for track provides another event for individuals to reach qualifying state standards, but does nothing for the teams, but simply to see if they can win a league title. Individuals also have to reach league qualifying standards during regular-season meets to participate in the KVAC championship event.

The league meets for cross country and wrestling also have little to no baring on future events; however, for wrestling, the meet could help improve an individual's overall season record and might help determine seeding in future meets.

Essentially, those sports have no Heal or Crabtree points to determine regional standing, a league champion or regional playoff qualifier, but postseason criteria is based on other individual and team standards.

Golf also continued to hold its own league head-to-head team playoffs and championship shootout this fall.

Football does not have league championship games.

Teams in most sports will, of course, continue to qualify for the regional playoffs based on regular-season performance.

Longtime high school basketball broadcaster Don Shields said he did not like the games for basketball “because it was too often a preview of a [regional] quarterfinal or semifinal game, which made it tough for the coaches and players.”

However, Shields, also the Oceanside baseball coach, saw the benefit on the diamond.

“The one time we played in the game, it allowed us to give our pitchers an inning of work in real-game competition before the playoffs began without exposing everyone on your staff,” he said. “We missed it twice by a fraction of a Heal Point, once by 0.125, and we had a scrimmage and it just never worked out. The KVAC game was always a goal for our baseball program, and I will miss it for that opportunity.”

For the past few years, the KVAC field hockey championships have not been true title games, but crossovers, where the top-ranked Class A school played the second-ranked Class B school, while the top-ranked Class B school faced the second-ranked Class A school.

In that scenario, the higher-ranked teams KVAC teams in both classes already were determined as the conference championships, thus, making the games unnecessary.

The KVAC will continue to give plaques to KVAC championship teams, which, in the aforementioned sports, will be determined by the team in the conference with the most Heal Points at the conclusion of the regular season.

Among Midcoast teams this fall, Belfast field hockey, Camden Hills girls soccer and Mount View and Medomak Valley boys soccer would have been in the mix to participate in conference championship games.

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