Dunmore’s girls basketball team lost just two games in the past two seasons.

That’s the same number of setbacks the program has been handed by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association over the past nine days.

Dunmore’s second appeal of its reclassification to 4A for the 2020-21 was rejected by the PIAA Board of Control on Wednesday by a 23-6 vote, making the Lady Bucks one of the first teams affected by the state’s competitive balance rule, which will force them to play one classification higher than their enrollment would call for next season.

Dunmore will not continue the appeal process, which would require the district to pursue legal action.

“No,” was Dunmore girls basketball coach Ben O’Brien’s succinct answer. “It took the PIAA a long time to deal with the transfer issue, so I did not anticipate them acknowledging the rule had shortcomings after the first implementation of the rule.

“However, I do believe they are now aware of some of the flaws in the rule, and I suspect they will eventually get them fixed.”

The Competitive Balance Rule is enforced only in football and basketball, and makes teams play at a higher level. The rule combines the number students in the school, any students who may transferred into the school after ninth grade and played basketball, and a two-year accumulation of success points assessed for participation in the state playoffs.

Dunmore, which was a state finalist in Class 3A and has played at that level since the state expanded to six classifications four years ago, argued two transfer students, who played one season each of junior varsity over the past two years, did not meet the intent of the PIAA’s rule, which was meant to crack down on successful programs that recruit players. All 15 schools originally affected by the enforcement were state finalists in 2019. Three won their appeal at the first stage.

Wednesday’s appeal revisited arguments made in the initial appeal to the PIAA Executive Staff on May 11.

“They tried to put something into place that was well intentioned,” O’Brien said. “It will probably never be exactly right. It will take time for them to tweak it a little bit and make it better. But, I think it’s important that these exercises take place so these flaws are pointed out and can get them fixed.”

O’Brien also didn’t see the appeals process as a waste of time.

“I don’t think it was a fruitless exercise,” O’Brien said. “I think it will be an exercise that will contribute to making the rule better down the road.”

It certainly should make for a more exciting playoff picture in Class 4A.

With Holy Redeemer moving up to Class 4A because of its expanding enrollment, both state qualifiers in Class 3A will join the three teams in Class 4A that qualified for the PIAA tournament this year — Scranton Prep, Dallas and Berwick. With only three berths available, if the number of qualifiers from last season remains the same. Eleven teams were part of the 4A field in February. With Western Wayne dropping to 3A and Dunmore moving up, there will again be 11 teams vying for berths.

“From a basketball standpoint, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a very exciting opportunity,” O’Brien said. “There were a lot of great teams in 3A and a lot of great teams in 4A, so it just gives us the opportunity to play against a whole bunch of different teams that we may not have seen in the playoffs. Certainly, we’ve seen some of them in the regular season.

“To be able to enter a tournament potentially with a new group of teams is very exciting.”


Mercy rule changed

Once teams took a 40-point lead in the second half of a basketball game last season, the mercy rule was enforced, with the clock running for almost the entirety of the remaining minutes.

Now, that margin will be just 30 points in the second half to kick the running clock into effect. The PIAA Board of Directors approved that recommendation of the basketball steering committee, which will go into effect next season.