About two weekends from now, NAQT's fourth iteration of the Small School National Championship Tournament (SSNCT) will be held at Chicago's Hyatt Regency O'Hare. 124 teams from 24 states descend upon the Windy City to compete for one of three titles: SSNCT Champion of the Public School Division; SSNCT Champion of the Very Small School Division; or SSNCT Champion of the Charter and Private School Division. For all intents and purposes, along with the inaugural 'Private School champion' comes another new national title criteria-meeting teams can play for: the 'Very Small School' title (eligible to traditional public schools with an enrollment less than 300 students in grades 9-12.)
Both the public and non-public divisions will have some pretty talented and deep competition at the top of their respective fields.
In the current field of 28 teams, the likely contenders for the Private School national title, featuring their rankings per Fred Morlan of HSQBRank, include #33 St. Mark's School of Texas (TX), #60 Winchester Thurston (PA) and #68 Miami Valley School (OH). All three teams have extensive nationals' playoffs experience and/or lots of buzzer time playing in deep circuits along with the three best points-per-bonus conversion rates on NAQT IS-sets in the field. Look for #135 BASIS Scottsdale (AZ), #163 St. Martin's Episcopal (LA), #177 Episcopal School of Acadiana (LA), #178 Mounds Park School (MN) and Keith Country Day School (IL) to compete for a semifinals spot as well. St. Mark's School of Texas is statistically the best team in this field, and they have by far the most experience playing high-quality competition out of any school in this field. Expect SMS-T to be the favorite to win the Private/Charter school title, but don't discount the young but magnificent Miami Valley School A team or always strong Winchester Thurston School from taking St. Mark's to the wire in the finals.
On the public school side, the small school cream of the quiz bowl crop appears to be dominated by Kentucky, as #89 Glasgow, #97 Danville, #187 Russell all head northwest to claim a National Title for the Bluegrass State. Other teams to watch out for include #171 Macomb (IL), #196 Piasa Southwestern (IL), #197 Camp Hill (PA), West Point (AL), Cooperstown (NY), Louisiana (MO), and Ottawa Hills A (OH). For the very small school side, fifty teams will be playing under the additional designation of “VSS”. Thirteen of these teams hail from Ohio, and another eleven are from Missouri. The two strongest participating teams playing under the VSS label appear to be Camp Hill (PA) and Ottawa Hills A & B (OH). Camp Hill is traditionally one of the most active, and best, small school programs in the country, playing in the challenging and emerging circuit of eastern Pennsylvania. Senior Colton Sanden, one of the Keystone State's strongest players, looks to lead the Lions to not just the Traditional Public national title but the Very Small School crown as well. In his team's path lay the A and B squads from Ottawa Hills, the 2009 Small School National Champions. Although not as active as many of their Buckeye State counterparts, the Green Bears have a very deep roster for a school of 236 students in grades 10-12, as seven different players across the three squads attending SSNCT scored 25ppg or more at the Olmsted Falls Battle Buzz event played on IS-162, a set which both the A and B teams cracked 17.50 or higher PPB on. Other teams that can probably go deep in the Very Small School playoff include Argenta-Oreana (IL), Fulton (MI), Swanton (OH), Hallsville (MO), and Honaker (VA.)
As for how the state of Ohio should fare...
Four Ohio teams are attending the Private School tournament of SSNCT. Miami Valley A is pretty much a slam-dunk to make the top five, probably good enough to finish second. I'm not sure who will play for their B team, but their B team – even if it is a pretty young, lesser experienced squad – can most likely notch a couple of wins, possibly a winning record. Toledo School for the Arts will probably have a winning record on Saturday and can play for the playoffs of the Private/Charter division. Unsure really about how Maumee Valley Country Day will perform there.
I'm not too familiar with how the Ohio contingency playing the public side shapes up against the rest of the field, so I'll borrow a little bit from Greg's breakdown here.
It seems to be that Ottawa Hills (A and B) and Newbury are the best shots at having a winning record for the Saturday portion. Smithville A and Swanton also look they could be on the cusp of a winning record, depending on draw. I read for Benjamin Logan at Rowdy Raider and, while they appeared to be playing undermanned, I was impressed with some of Ray's buzzes. My guess is with a full A team lineup playing, they can get a winning record too. Outside of that, I'm not too sure. There isn't really much data for the rest of the Ohio teams, such as the Wayne County contingency going.
Thoughts on SSNCT?