The North Central B League has been revived with the combination of the 2B and 1B schools in District 6 for the basketball and volleyball seasons.
The 2B members of the new NCL include Oroville, Liberty Bell, Bridgeport, Manson, and Lake Roosevelt. The 1B members will be Pateros, Entiat, Waterville, Mansfield, and Cascade Christian of Wenatchee.
This combination is a common occurrence in the Puget Sound, where the few B and 1A schools have to get together to avoid four- or five-hour league trips. The schools would play the others at their level twice (home and home) and those in the other only once in a season. So LR will continue to play Oroville and Liberty Bell twice, and play Mansfield and Waterville only once every season.
The new league will mean less travel for the LR volleyball team, which competed in the South Division of the Central Washington League for the past two years. It eliminates the long trips to White Swan and Yakima.
Basketball will continue to see similar opponents as the past two seasons with the addition of Entiat and Waterville who had competed in the South, along with Cascade Christian and Mansfield. Those two schools had been in a 1B league with A-C-H and Wilbur-Creston.
"The new league schedule will not necessarily benefit top tier teams due to only five non-league games and matchups versus 1B schools," noted LR’s head boys’ basketball coach, Brad Wilson.
Girls’ head basketball Coach Wallace Pleasants also added that the enlarged Caribou Trail League will make it difficult to schedule those schools for a non-league match up.
The change may not undermine competition as in 1996, when the Pateros boys, whose team was around the same size, defeated Mabton and St. George's by wide margins to claim the State B championship.
Competition at this level may be what the boys’ basketball team needs next year to break in five new starters. For the girls, it may be more difficult; Mansfield did not field a girls’ squad this year and is a question mark for next year.
In volleyball, the competition will be high, as Pateros was in the 2B state tournament last year.
For LR sports the challenge is to not rest on this or last season’s success but to go out and improve and realize each individual’s potential to compete and beat the Northwest Christians and Colfaxes of the world.
To see whether the league is a boon or a bust, fans will have to wait until August, but the new league could harken back to the golden age of small-school basketball, when every town had a high school and everybody travelled to the game — and when, no matter how large or small the school was, the game was never a for sure win until the final buzzer sounded.