A quick look at the OK White Conference boys basketball standings reveals that Forest Hills Northern has a two-game lead heading into Thursday night’s game against Greenville.
Not really, though.
OK Conference commissioner David Feenstra reported that the presidents of the White and OK Silver divisions have decided on different paths to crown its champions this winter.
Unlike the Red, Green, Gold and Blue in which all 14 games will count towards the title, only the second-round conference games will count in the White. Meanwhile, the Silver will play a round-and-a-half and use a percentage of games won in the division for the league standings.
The season’s late start and the limited contact practice opportunities factored into the decision to go second-round games only when it came to determining the champion.
RELATED: OK Conference standings
“Honestly, and I know this sounds so cliché, we are just going game-by-game,” FHN coach Joe Soules said. “When we talk about goals in preseason, our only goal is to just get better every single day. We haven’t even discussed the conference championship. I don’t even know if I told the guys that it is only going to be the second half of the season.
“We have 18 games on our schedule, and we are going to play as many as we possibly can, and we are going to battle. It isn’t any different than years past. If a team comes out that beats us that we beat in the first round, then good for them. We have to play better. That’s just a lesson. Every game means something to us and our goal is to get better every single day.”
FHN, 5-1, has two first-round games remaining before second-round begins next week. East Grand Rapids’ girls team finds itself in a similar position as the FHN boys since the Pioneers lead their standings by a game over Byron Center.
Pioneers coach Troy Hammond said that teams were told in advance that this was the format, so he has no complaints.
“Certainly, it would be to our benefit if we were playing more conventionally as far as a full 14-game league schedule,” Hammond said. “It was a piece that was out of our control. We found out shortly before league play started, so we knew in advance. I do get to some degree why are doing it. If there were cancellations where one team plays 12 games and the other plays 14, it’s a little more complicated to crown a champion.
“We haven’t spent much time talking about it. It doesn’t change the way we approach our league schedule. We always try to find a way to win the next one in front of you, and if you do that enough times we will hopefully put ourselves in position where we can win a league championship through seven games or 14 games.”
The Pioneers, 7-0 overall, will take on Forest Hills Central tonight and Grand Rapids Christian Saturday to complete their first-round slate.