January 31, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 41

If it’s playoff time, it’s also time once again to start ‘gluing’

Crunch Time

It may seem incredible but playoff time is almost upon us in the local high school sports scene. That’s what happens when you pack two thirds of your season into a 30-day timeframe – it goes by fast and furious.

At least that’s what’s transpired as far as the Cheney boys’ and girls’ basketball teams are concerned. Between Jan. 5 and Feb. 5 the teams will have played 12 games, including a couple weeks of three games per week.

Compare that with the seven games played between Nov. 27 and Dec. 28. It’s a busy schedule. Frankly, the Great Northern League might want to look at scheduling the way the Greater Spokane and Northeast A leagues do their scheduling and start league play in late December.

But it is what it is, to use a way too oft used phrase.

There are a variety of scenarios for the two Cheney teams, any one of which could determine not only who they play but where. Given tiebreaker rules, and a preseason number draw to settle all ties where the lowest number team is home – Cheney drew a seven – it’s likely the boys squad has the best shot at that first round home game.

But you never know, do you?

If the Hawks get beyond districts, that’s where things once again get interesting in crossover competition with the Central Washington Athletic Conference, Districts 5 and 6. Both of the CWAC’s top two teams advance to regional play, while the top two GNL teams play the CWAC’s three and four schools for a shot at the next level.

It’s what the WIAA refers to as “gluing,” where leagues with only one allocation to state can “glue” onto another league’s district play and thereby earn a second berth, at least to regionals.

“If we did not glue, we would get one (team) to state and that’s all we’d get,” Cheney assistant principal for activities and athletics Jim Missel said.

It’s a numbers game, and by numbers that’s enrollment figures, not number of teams in the respective leagues. Over the years Cheney has had to do gluing rather often as classifications shift about.

Not so much a factor in team sports, gluing really shows up in individual sports, as the Cheney boys’ cross country team found out this past fall. With only one team allocation to state, the top two teams – Deer Park and Cheney – competed at the CWAC’s district meet to earn another berth to state at Sun Willows. The Stags and Blackhawks both placed one and two respectively.

“And do you know what they got?” Missel asked. “Not a thing.”

Other than an extra week of competition, no trophy, award, nothing. The extra week though was worth it as Cheney placed fifth and Deer Park fourth, both ahead of the two CWAC teams.

This scenario is going to bear out in a different way in spring sports, especially track and field, but more on that when the weather gets warmer. For now, well, it is what it is.

And next year Missel said it won’t be as the GNL returns to having two team allocations.

“Next year we will not do any gluing,” he said, which is good because when the league does so with the CWAC, we are at their mercy essentially.

Missel said it will be hard for the average fan to understand this season, especially once spring sports roll around. But that’s not for another month or so.

For now, the best solution to gluing is the simplest, preached by every coach since the Mayans began playing that weird ball game and gladiators fought to the death in Rome’s Coliseum.

“We’ve got to win,” Missel said.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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