The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 2, 2013

Sectional hoop sites now fluid

Star Beacon

— As this space predicted back in February, high school boys and girls basketball will be following the lead of sports such as baseball, softball, starting this season.

The Northeast District Athletic Board announced Tuesday morning that all sectional tournament games in all four divisions will now be played in the home gymnasium of the higher-seeded team.

That is the system that has been used in baseball and softball and soccer for years, now, and it has worked without a hitch, for the most part.

After the sectional champions are determined, the district games will be contested at neutral sites.

In addition, Division I will also have blended sectional-district tournaments, whereby a school has a choice between two districts, based on their seed at the drawing.

Let there be light

The following item comes courtesy of column contributor Scott Wludyga:

The term, “Friday Night Lights” has become synonymous with high school football. But for the last several years, the Pymatuning Valley Lakers football team has been playing in a lot of ‘Friday Night Shadows’ on its home field. That’s because the lights at Laker Stadium in Andover Township are the same lights their fathers and grandfathers played under years ago.

The lights are have been in place since 1980 when they were brought over by helicopter from the Lakers’ old home field a few blocks away on Chestnut Street, where they were first installed sometime in the 1960s. The old lights are not reliable, and have gone out in the middle of athletic events on numerous occasions.

“We have not had a game in sometime where all of the lights have stayed on for the entire night,” PV Athletic Director Melody Nowakowski said. “We have even had a whole pole go out and had to continue playing on the lighted side of the field, switching sides on every change of possession.”

An estimated cost for new lights is about $235,000, a large number for a small district on a tight budget. That’s why the Pymatuning Valley Athletic Boosters, along with support from the PV School District, is launching a fundraising effort to “Light Up Laker Stadium” with new lights.

The PV Athletic Boosters supports all 13 high school sports at PV, booster president Laurie Inman said.  And she says the lighting project will help more than just the football team. The long jump and pole vault runways have been moved to improve safety for the football players. And that also enables the field to be wide enough for soccer. “We have a five year estimation on project completion,” Inman said, “but we do not know if the lights will last that long. We are counting on alumni and community support for this project to become a reality.”

Alumni are already lining up to help. An alumni flag football game is scheduled for Nov. 27, the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Former Laker football coaches and Ashtabula County Football Hall of Famers Joe Kearney and Ken Parise have already agreed to coach the former players. The teams will be determined after players have signed up, based on the number of players their ages.

Former cheerleaders and band members have also started signing up to be a part of what is sure to be a memorable night, complete with raffles and a photo booth.

“We want not just alumni but all Pymatuning Valley community members to come out and support this event. Our alumni have a great amount of pride for our school and we want this to continue on to our future Laker graduates,” Nowakowski said.

“The stadium is a gathering place for community, and PV Schools has definitely reaped full value from the current lights,” Inman said.  “It is a necessary upgrade, but it is also about school and community pride. We have a great complex at PV Schools, so let’s work together to put the stadium in line with the rest of our facilities.”

The cost to participate in the flag football game is $25. The deadline to sign up is Oct. 25. Players and participants will receive a souvenir jersey or T-shirt. Admission for the game will be $5 for adults and $3 for students with tickets available at the gate.

You can sign up online at or email or call Laurie Inman 858-3800.

Donations can be sent to:

PV Laker Lights

c/o PV Athletic Boosters

PO Box 954

Andover, Ohio 44003.