Ledyard to appeal placement in CIAC's new boys' basketball format

Ledyard High School athletic director Jim Buonocore voted for, and thoroughly endorsed, the CIAC's proposal to expand its boys' basketball tournament from four to five divisions because it included a major provision: An appeal process.

The Colonels are going to put that process to an immediate test.

Moments after member schools learned via email Thursday that the CIAC Board of Control had voted to accept the committee's recommendation to expand its 2017-18 state tournament on a one-year trial basis, Buonocore and head coach Dave Cornish disputed the decision to place the Colonels in Division II, and said the school will appeal.

"I appreciate all of the work committee has done," Buonocore said Thursday night. "I know they're trying to make the basketball tournament better, and I applaud their efforts. Unfortunately, we don't agree with our current placement."

In announcing the move, the CIAC said "schools have been placed in divisions using a group of factors including recent success in state tournament and league championship play, the overall strength of the league in which they compete and their power point ranking over the past three seasons (determined by sum of wins of opponents they defeated)."

Buonocore said Ledyard, which has a current boys' enrollment of 383, wants to know if the process was based on a specific formula or whether there was also some subjective thinking behind the decision.

"In terms of enrollment we should be in Division IV," he said. "Nowhere in the email did I see the rationale behind placement for schools in the five divisions. It's a little perplexing to find out how they did this, and that's why we're going to appeal.

"When you look at the rollout, they have schools of a various sizes and schools of choice placed all the way from Division I to Division V. When I talked to Jiggs (Cecchini, boys' basketball chair), he said our affiliation as a school of choice had nothing to do with the committee's decision to place us in Division II. It just doesn't make a lot of sense in terms of our situation."

Cornish pointed to Waterford and Woodstock Academy, two Eastern Connecticut Conference rivals. Both have larger boys' enrollments and both have won state championships this decade, yet both were placed in Division III. Ledyard hasn't reached the state semifinals since 2014.

"There was also a mention by the basketball committee that the ECC was considered a mid-major among the state conferences (in their formula)," Cornish said. "If that's the case, what constitutes us being in Division II? A school like Southington has more boys (1,008) than we have students (797), but they're in Division III.

"We just want to have an opportunity to compete and have a fair shot. Where's our success at the state level compared to others? I just don't get it, but I think the CIAC will do the right thing, do their due diligence, and put us where we rightfully should be in Division III."

Buonocore added that this was a state issue, not a conference one.

"In our league, we want to be Division I," he said. "We have no issue in boys' basketball playing in Division I. That's where we belong. And when we go into new format (next year) and have ability to adjust by sport, we'll be a Division I program in the ECC.

"When it comes down to fairness in Connecticut, we just want to be treated fairly, and don't feel like we are. If they want to move us up to Division III, fine, but to just randomly throw us in Division II makes no sense at all."

c.banning@theday.com

CIAC BOYS' BASKETBALL

Following is the initial division setup for the 2017-18 season (final list will be released in October after schools are afforded chance to appeal move down or opt up to Div. I):

Division I

Bassick, Crosby, Danbury, East Catholic, East Hartford, Fairfield Prep, Hamden, Hillhouse, Holy Cross, Kennedy, Northwest Catholic, Norwich Free Academy, Notre Dame-Fairfield, Notre Dame-West Haven, Ridgefield, Sacred Heart-Waterbury, Trinity Catholic, Trumbull, Weaver, Wilbur Cross, Windsor.

Division II

Amity, Bloomfield, Bridgeport Central, Bristol Central, Career, Cheshire, Darien, Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Warde, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Hartford Public, Immaculate, Ledyard, Maloney, Manchester, McMahon, Middletown, Naugatuck, New Britain, New London, New Milford, Newington, Newtown, Norwalk, Pomperaug, St. Joseph, Shelton, Simsbury, South Windsor, Stamford, Staples, Waterbury Career, West Haven, Westhill, Wethersfield, Wilby, Wilton, Xavier.

Division III

Avon, Barlow, Berlin, Bethel, Branford, Bristol Eastern, Brookfield, Bulkeley, Bunnell, Cheney Tech, Conard, East Haven, East Lyme, Enfield, E.O. Smith, Farmington, Fitch, Guilford, Hall, Harding, Hand, Killingly, Kolbe-Catheral, Lyman Hall, Masuk, New Canaan, New Fairfield, North Haven, Platt, Prince Tech, RHAM, St. Paul, Sheehan, Southington, Stratford, Tolland, Torrington, Waterford, Watertown, Weston, Wolcott, Woodstock Academy.

Division IV

Abbott Tech, Aerospace, Amisted, Ansonia, Bacon Academy, Bullard Havens, Classical, Coginchaug, Creed, Ellington, Ellis Tech, Foran, Goodwin Tech, Granby, Grasso Tech, Griswold, Haddam-Killingworth, Kaynor Tech, Law, Lewis Mills, Nonnewaug, Northwestern Regional, Norwich Tech, O'Brien Tech, Plainfield, Plainville, Platt Tech, Rockville, Rocky Hill, St. Bernard, Seymour, Sport Sciences, Stonington, Suffield, University, Valley Regional, Vinal Tech, Wilcox Tech, Windham Tech.

Division V

Achievement, Bolton, Canton, Capital Prep, Coventry, Cromwell, Derby, East Granby, East Hampton, East Windsor, Gilbert, Hale-Ray, Housatonic Valley, Innovation, Litchfield, Lyman Memorial, Metro Learning, Montville, Morgan, North Branford, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Oxford, Parish Hill, Portland, Public Safety, Putnam, Shepaug Valley, Somers, Stafford, Thomaston, Tourtellotte, Trinity College Academy, Wamogo, Westbrook, Wheeler, Whitney Tech, Windsor Locks, Wolcott, Woodland.

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