IHSAA releasing new head count

This evening, the New Palestine boys basketball team — from a school with a student enrollment of 1,094 — will take on Center Grove (2,456 enrollment) in the opening round of the Class 4A Sectional 13 at Whiteland.

“Our sectional is like those sectionals before class basketball where there are schools playing other schools who are two-and-half times bigger,” New Palestine coach Adam Barton noted.

With the release of school enrollments by the IHSAA on Thursday, Barton doesn’t expect much to change. The Dragons have been among the very smallest schools in Class 4A since moving up from 3A for 2011-12.

In the IHSAA’s figures, which will be used to set class sizes for team sports for 2015-16 and 2016-17, New Palestine ranks 100th in enrollment, out of 406 schools. Class 4A is made up of 101 schools in the current two-year alignment. The IHSAA will announce new classifications for 2015-16 and 2016-17 by March 12; six classes for football, four classes for basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball; and two classes for soccer.

“We don’t talk much to our kids about it, because it is out of our control,” Barton added.

In their first go-round in Class 4A in 2012, New Palestine won the boys basketball sectional at Center Grove.

Greenfield-Central (1,439) and Mt. Vernon (1,170) are expected to remain in Class 4A, as well, for basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball. Greenfield-Central ranks 66th in enrollment in the state; Mt. Vernon is 91st. Carmel (4,830), Ben Davis (4,220) and Warren Central (3,602) are Indiana’s largest schools. Center Grove is 15th. Eastern Hancock, a 2A school in basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball, ranks 251st with 416 students and will remain in 2A.

A number of boys basketball programs would have to jump from Class 3A to 4A via the IHSAA’s tournament success factor to bump New Palestine back down to 3A. A regional title by Greensburg in two weeks, for example, would be enough to move the defending Class 3A state champs into 4A the next two years.

In girls basketball, current 2A No. 1 Heritage Christian has already earned sufficient IHSAA tournament success points to earn a spot in 3A for 2015-16 and 2016-17. The Eagles gained four points for winning a state title last year and three points for this weekend’s semistate championship. A school needs six points per two-year cycle to move up one class.

The winner of Eastern Hancock’s girls basketball sectional has advanced to a regional with Heritage Christian the last several seasons.

“Heritage Christian was a 3A-4A basketball team playing schools in a 2A classification,” Eastern Hancock coach Jeremy Powers said of the private-school Eagles (enrollment 417). “It is only right that they move up due to their success, so it gives other schools a fair and equal opportunity to play for a regional title. The last couple of years, you knew going into the regional that you were more than likely not getting out, because of Heritage Christian.

“It opens the door now for many schools to move onto semistate.”

In the six-class football system, New Palestine has already locked up a spot in Class 5A following their 4A state championship and semistate titles of the last two seasons. Mt. Vernon will remain in 4A. Greenfield-Central, also currently 4A in football, appears to be nearing a 5A football classification, if not in the upcoming two-year cycle then down the road if its enrollment continues to increase. The largest 32 schools currently make up 6A, with the next 34 largest in 5A.

Eastern Hancock, now Class A in football, could be among the larger Class A football programs or among the smaller 2A programs. It ranked 289th in enrollment in the previous two-year cycle, making for a current jump of 38 spots.

Other local effects:

Hoosier Heritage Conference member Delta projects as jumping from 3A to 4A in football, based on enrollment. The Eagles competed in a 4A football sectional with Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon and New Palestine before dropping down to 3A in 2013-14. Delta likely will remain 3A in other sports.

Recently consolidated Muncie Central, one of the schools that replaced Delta in the local 4A football sectional, could now be a 5A football school.

Cathedral will play football in Class 6A due the tournament success factor. Since 1986, the Irish have won 12 football state titles spread across Class 3A, 4A and 5A.

Local enrollment numbers

The enrollment totals of IHSAA member schools that will be used in the reclassification and realignment process were recently announced. Classifications will be set and published by March 12. The realignment of sectionals in each team sport will take place in April with those realignment plans being presented to the IHSAA Executive Committee for approval on May 4. The enrollment figures, the total of boys and girls in grades 9‐12, were submitted by the schools to the Indiana Department of Education last fall and are used to determine the classifications in the sports of baseball, boys and girls basketball, football, boys and girls soccer, softball and volleyball, the next two school years.

Hancock County enrollments (and state rank, out of 406 IHSAA member schools):

Greenfield-Central, 1,439 (66th)

Mt. Vernon, 1,170 (91st)

New Palestine, 1,094 (100th)

Eastern Hancock, 416 (251st)