Class A Blog: Swearngin hears no evil (yet) on basketball power rankings, key games this weekend

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

As was the case with the Class A power rankings for football in the fall, this has turned into the winter of discontent for many basketball coaches and fans in the state’s smallest classification.

The power ranking system, used for the first time in state history to determine playoff participants and seedings, came under fire by some football coaches who thought aspects of it hurt deserving teams. Now some basketball coaches are balking as well, particularly when it comes to two aspects of the system in basketball — no points for playing out-of-state teams and no extra points for playing teams from higher classifications.

However, Ralph Swearngin, executive director of the Georgia High School Association, said most of the complaints haven’t reached his office.

“I honestly haven’t heard many,” Swearngin said this week. “I’m not saying that no one has issues with the system but I really haven’t heard any complaints.”

In football, Class A teams were awarded an extra two points for every classification higher an opponent was than Class A. So games against AAA teams were worth at least four points. But in basketball, there are no extra points for playing teams from larger classifications.

“In football, when one team has 35 players and the other team has 70, the team with more players has a distinct advantage and usually wins,” Swearngin said. “But that’s not the case in basketball. In basketball, the numbers don’t matter as much, which is why you have states like Indiana where there is one state champion.”

In reference to games against out-of-state foes, in football, those opponents were treated like in-state games, with points awarded according to the size of the school, based on the GHSA’s school population scale. However, in basketball, teams get no credit at all for playing a team from out of state, no matter how highly ranked that team might be.

“The rationale there is that in football, some of the teams that are on or near the boarder [of Georgia] almost had to play teams from other states because of the logistics involved,” Swearngin said. “That’s not the case with basketball. There are enough schools of similar size within proximity that compete in basketball to where you don’t have to play out-of-state games, unless you choose to do so.”

Still, as is the case in football, Swearngin said the basketball committee of the GHSA will be open making “tweaks” to the power ranking system, if a solid case can be made for doing so. He added that any adjustments made to the power ranking system, for all sports, will most likely be approved at the April executive committee meeting of the GHSA.

Weekend’s best

Here are a half-dozen games worth checking out this weekend:


No. 8 Towns County (16-3, 8-1 in Region 8-Division A, No. 8 public school power ranking) at Providence Christian (11-6, 7-1 in Region 8-Division B, No. 17 private school power ranking), Friday, 7 p.m.

No. 6 St. Francis (11-6, 7-0 in Region 6-Division B, No. 5 private school power ranking) at No. 1 Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (18-2, 6-1 in Region 6-Division A, No. 1 private school power ranking), Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

No. 4 Darlington (13-5, 6-1 in Region 6-Division A, No. 3 private school power ranking) at No. 2 Holy Innocents’ (14-4, 7-0 in Region 5, No. 2 private school power ranking), Saturday, 5 p.m.


Whitefield Academy (9-7, 5-4 in Region 6-Division B, No. 16 private school power ranking) at North Cobb Christian (17-2, 9-0 in Region 6-Division B, No. 1 private school power ranking), Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Landmark Christian (13-4, 4-2 in Region 5, No. 9 private school power ranking) at No. 5 W.D. Mohammed (18-1, 5-0 in Region 5, No. 5 private school power ranking), Friday, 7:30 p.m.

No. 6 Wilkinson County (15-1, 4-0 in Region 7-Division B, No. 1 public school power ranking) at Portal (13-4, 4-2 in Region 3-Division A, No. 10 public school power ranking), Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

17 comments Add your comment

basketball junkie

January 25th, 2013
10:47 pm

Whitefield is not in region 5. They are region6-B also. NCCS beat them 65-45 tonight


January 26th, 2013
8:42 am

Swearnagin always seems to hide his head in the sand when it comes to issue concerning HS sports.

S. Thomas Coleman

January 26th, 2013
9:35 am

Thanks for catching the mistake. It’s been corrected.

S. Thomas Coleman


January 26th, 2013
9:58 am

Swearnagin left out the most obvious ccomplaint that I KNOW he has heard….they changed those 2 rules AFTER basketball coaches had already made their schedules!!

Coach O

January 26th, 2013
10:55 am

Because they changed the rule after the teams have made there schedule it makes for a unfair year for a lot of the teams in private and public who over the years have bulit there schedule for the long haul by playing some of the top teams out of state. Whitefield Academy is the prime example they don’t get any points for playing out of state competition so they are penalized for doing so after the schedule has been made you can’t just cancel games it cost the school to forfiet. So they need to award points for out of state schools and for playng teams in a higher classification, You should recieve more points for playng schools in th higher classification. They have more athletes to choose from when they select there teams the smaller schools do not. Tey creaed this problem when they decided to go to this system in the first place now they do not want to fix it, Can you say foul. The should have either kept it the way it was or came up with a way to make 1 state champion after all the class champios were decided they should have come up with a way for those champions play for a state title to decide ONE not SIX……. Instead just like the history of the state of Georgia they segregated the Class A division cause the south teams did not think it was fair. I say let the plaers play and tell the coaches to learn how to coach if your team is winning and you get to the State and you lose then maybe just maybe it was your coaching or maybe that team was better on that day. Duke was nmber one in the college ranks last week untill they played Miami does that mean that Coach K can;t coach no it just means that on that day Miami was the better team. But Duke Traditionally has the better program.

S. Thomas Coleman

January 26th, 2013
8:44 pm

@athensball: Dr. Swerngin says that basketball coaches knew the rules in time to schedule accordingly. I plan to ask a handful of them to see what they say. Also, good stuff coming the beginning of this week from SACA girls HC Jackie Cowan – one of the best in the biz, male or female. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S.Thomas Coleman


January 26th, 2013
10:20 pm

There are two issues that I see with the power rankings system.

One was already pointed out by Coach O. Teams should receive more points for playing up. Yes, teams have the same number of players, however, the big schools have a MUCH larger population to choose from. That is just a no brainer.

Two. The fact that the region tournament champions automatically get the top seeds in the state tournament pretty much invalidates the power rankings. Three of the top four teams on the private school side are in region 6A. That means that teams possibly ranked second and third in the power rankings will end up as 4,5, or 6 seeds behind region champions from inferior regions. Why have the power rankings all year, if you are going to throw them away at the end of the year?

Other than those two things, I actually like the power rankings.


January 27th, 2013
2:46 pm

One other thing… Indiana doesn’t have one state champion anymore. They moved to a four class system in 1998.


January 28th, 2013
11:14 am

@STC: If coaches knew the rules in enough time to make their schedules (and not cause themselves forefeits), then what coach in their right mind would STILL schedule out of state games and games against higher classifcations? It doesnt make any since….but then again we are talking abotu the GHSA so why should it? haha


January 28th, 2013
1:35 pm

@STC: Just some info for you…Athens Christian’s 4 point loss to AAAA Glenn Hills was without star PG Will Jackson (averaging 30 a game). Demetrius McWhorter (ACS) scored 31 points and had 17 rebounds. Another sophmore. If those 2 kids stay together (and no atlanta schools steal them away)..they are bound to bring at least one title home to Athens!


January 29th, 2013
8:47 am

All fictitious rankings aside, Region 6 appears to be power central this year. In 6A, SWAC, Darlington (who beat Holy Innocents on Saturday), and Gordan Lee plus St Francis in 6B look to dominate the upcoming playoffs.

And why does GHSA keep trying to defend their cowardly decision to split Class A? Without the split, no need for rankings!


January 29th, 2013
10:08 am

I’m not surprised Dr. Swearngin doesn’t see a problem with the mess they have created in Class A. He has a tin ear to any concerns because he and a handfull of public school administrators and coaches had already made up their minds what they were going to do and didn’t care to even take the proper time to think it through. I would be interested to know what the coaches knew or didn’t know about scheduling because the GHSA did in fact change the rules in football after many schools had already made out their schedules. Heck, they were changing the rules during the football season! I have said it before and I say it again, all the GHSA had to do was apply a multiplier to the private schools that are building up their rosters through the GOAL scholarship program and the problems in Class A would have been greatly reduced.


January 29th, 2013
1:11 pm

GHSA has created a somewhat problem with the power rankings in Girls Class A Basketball. On the public school side the out-of-state games do not allow a team to receive any credit in the rankings. Therefore, in the final ranking going into the playoffs, then a team’s rank will be lower. For example, take Towns County, currently #8 ranked, as they have played five games out-of-state. Their record is 5-0. Three of the games are legitmate, as the NC teams are ranked or good. Towns County will receive zero points in the rankings. This inequality is not fair. But what does one do with the present GHSA system?


January 29th, 2013
4:17 pm

@oldfriend: We have the same rule on the private school side. What is killing us is teams like the Towns boys who are 0-10 so therefore it actually would have been better if we didnt play them at all. When is the Towns boys just going to get out of region 8? No one likes to drive 2 hours to the middle of nowhere and beat a team by 50. Thank you Tallulah Falls for accepting your reality. Towns should join them.


January 30th, 2013
12:20 pm

@ athensbball – Wow! What an incredibly condescending remark you made to Old Friend. ACS is free to petition the GHSA to allow them to play up in AA, AAA, AAAA, AAAAA, or AAAAAA any day of the week. ACS will get the same amount of points for beating Towns as they get for beating anyone else in region 8.


January 31st, 2013
4:52 pm

@bucket — You can take your multiplier and stick it where the sun don’t shine. You obviously don’t have a kid playing at a small Class A school. Mine had to play across the line from Buford’s Omar Hunter (Florida Gator), 300 lbs, and middle linebacker Pridemore at 244 lbs (Florida Gator), before Speaker Murphy retired and sanity prevailed, with the private school penalty being repealed. We had a lot of injuries playing Buford and other big schools twice our size or more. If my son had been seriously injured because of idiots like you, we’d be doing more than exchanging opinions on a message board.


February 1st, 2013
9:40 am

@ moto – I have 2 responses to you. First, if your son played at a small Class A school, then why were they playing Buford? BTW, Buford is a public school that was in Class AA and now is in Class AAA, so I don’t even know what they have to do with any of this. Secondly, I am a private school parent, but I have contended that some private schools should not be allowed to continue to play in Class A. That was the point of my argument for the multiplier. I wrote, “all the GHSA had to do was apply a multiplier to the private schools that are building up their rosters through the GOAL scholarship program and the problems in Class A would have been greatly reduced.” What part of that do you disagree with?