Danny Ventura: How the Super 8s could have gone

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association sent shock waves throughout the state last year when it voted to put the Super 8 tournament on ice for four years.

The Boston Herald, being the impatient souls that we are, choose not to wait.

Rather than limiting the Super 8 to just boys hockey and baseball, we took a look at what the 2021-2022 athletic season would have been like had there been a Super 8 tournament across the board. Since the power rankings, despite the complaints of some, proved to be an effective way of properly seeding teams in the tournament, we used team’s overall ratings to determine who would have constituted this year’s Super 8 in each team sport (due to limited team numbers, rugby was excluded from the mix).

As for the Super 8 tournament, it should be a double-elimination affair. For those at the MIAA who used the double-elimination format as one of the reasons for getting rid of the highly successful Super 8 hockey and baseball tournaments, I’ll counter that argument with some of my own.

To those in Franklin who referred to the Super 8 tournament as one in which an elitist mentality existed, I’ll pose these questions to you: isn’t the state tournament an elitist tournament of sorts? Not every team gets to compete in the state tournament, so aren’t they being treated worse than those who do? Therefore, isn’t there an elitist mentality involved whereby teams which make the tournament are treated differently than those who do not?

What the Super 8 does without question is take the top eight teams, put them where they belong and, as a result, balances out the rest of the tournaments. Look at the last boys basketball tournament where the odds were good that, barring a major upset, BC High (Div. 1), Malden Catholic (Div. 2) and St. Mary’s (Div. 3) — three Catholic schools for those scoring at home — were going to be the last teams standing at the conclusion of the tournament. Not surprisingly, the margin of victory in those three finals was 98 points.

For those who think having a Super 8 diminishes the accomplishment of winning a Div. 1 state tournament, ask Norwood baseball coach Kevin Igoe if he feels winning the 2015 Div. 1 championship was “diminished” somewhat because St. John’s Prep, Newton North, Xaverian, Wachusett, Bridgewater-Raynham, BC High, Braintree and St. John’s (Shrewsbury) were in the Super 8 field.

Now that we’ve settled that, let’s take a look at how our Super 8 tournament would have played out across the board, starting with the fall season.

Start with field hockey, where everyone raved about the excitement surrounding the Div. 1 final four contests involving Andover, Walpole, Franklin and Concord-Carlisle. Imagine how much better it would have been had perennial state champion Watertown, Masconomet, Falmouth and Sandwich been part of a Super 8 format.

The girls volleyball Super 8 would have been spiced up with the addition of Div. 2 finalists Hopkinton and Westborough to the group of eight. Because of the parity in both boys and girls soccer, the scenario existed that both Div. 1 state champions (Brookline boys, Natick girls) would not have qualified for the Super 8. We must remember the field is being selected before the start of the tournament, not based on what happens over the next two weeks.

Football would be the one sport where some work would need to be done. While Franklin and Catholic Memorial were no-brainer inclusions, seeing the Div. 1 champion Springfield Central landing at No. 14 might be a tough sell.

Moving on to the winter, a Super 8 boys basketball with Malden Catholic and St. Mary’s added in among the likes of BC High, Newton North, Springfield Central and Andover would be a hoop junkie delight. As for the girls basketball field, Norwood and Medfield would have been a great addition to the group of Andover, Central Catholic, Wachusett and Springfield Central.

Now to hockey, where the coaches are still steaming over the MIAA decision to pull the plug on a Super 8 tournament with a 30-year track record of proven success. This year’s Gang of Eight (St. John’s Prep, Xaverian, Hingham, Catholic Memorial, Austin Prep, Arlington, Belmont and Pope Francis) would have undoubtedly created memories.

As for girls hockey (yes we have heard the cries from Stephanie Wood and Frank Pagliuca), we would have loved to seen the likes of Duxbury, Braintree and Natick take a shot or two at kingfish Austin Prep and Arlington.

The other sport which did have a Super 8 tournament in the past was baseball. It figures that Austin Prep, a team which was on the bubble of making the Super 8 in the past, would have been an obvious participant this time around. Adding the Cougars (who went undefeated and won the Div. 3 tournament) and Div. 2 state champion Milton to a field which would have included Taunton, Franklin, Catholic Memorial, Shrewsbury, BC High and Div. 3 power Medfield certainly is alluring.

If there is a sport where a Super 8 really would have been interesting, it would have to be boys lacrosse. Putting teams like Medfield, Longmeadow, Duxbury and Norwell in there with the Div. 1 final four teams (St. John’s Prep, Lincoln-Sudbury, BC High and Hingham) certainly whets the appetite. On the girls side, we’d love to see Notre Dame (Hingham) in the Super 8 field with Westwood, Walpole, Wellesley and company.

The softball tournament was essentially the Div. 1 Invitational as seven of the eight teams in the field were from Div. 1. The only non-Div. 1 team to crack the Super 8 field was St. Mary’s (Lynn), which lost to Middleboro in the Div. 3 state semifinals.

Weston rolled to the Div. 4 state title, yet many feel the Wildcats could have been the best boys tennis team in the state. Why not give them a chance to test their mettle against Brookline, Newton North and St. John’s Prep as well as the heavy hitters from their own Dual County League? On the girls front, the top 10 teams were in Div. 1, so taking the top eight out would have balanced that division nicely.

Needham is unquestionably the premier boys volleyball program in the state right now. Seeing teams like Greater New Bedford and North Quincy (Westfield just missed the cut by percentage points) in a Super 8 field would have been good.

 

THE MYTHICAL CONTESTANTS

 

FALL SEASON

 

FIELD HOCKEY

1. Andover 3.7254

2. Sandwich 3.7061

3. Walpole 3.6696

4. Masconomet 3.6665

5. Watertown 3.3559

6. Concord‐Carlisle 3.3122

7. Falmouth 3.2481

8. Westwood 3.1591

(Just missed the cut: Franklin 3.0459, Nashoba 2.8967, Monomoy 2.8307, Winchester 2.8107)

 

FOOTBALL

1. Franklin 26.1907

2. Catholic Memorial 25.3441

3. Marblehead 22.8915

4. Central Catholic 22.8823

5. Milford 22.2068

6. Scituate 21.5290

7. King Philip 20.6443

8. St. John’s Prep 19.8034

(Just missed the cut: Xaverian 19.7247, Duxbury 19.0172, Marshfield 18.9631, Lincoln‐Sudbury 18.8651, Mansfield 18.7056, Springfield Central 17.7428, Natick 17.6831)

 

BOYS SOCCER

1. Hingham 3.9553

2. Belchertown 3.9190

3. Needham 3.7928

4. Pembroke 3.6367

5. Newton North 3.4918

6. East Longmeadow 3.4635

7. Marshfield 3.4490

8. Leominster 3.3433

(Just missed the cut: Masconomet 3.3402, Holliston 3.2820, Brockton 3.2806, Framingham 3.2789, Arlington 3.2658, Brookline 3.2487)

 

GIRLS SOCCER

1. Hingham 5.1967

2. Bishop Feehan 4.2541

3. Plymouth North 3.8762

4. Oliver Ames 3.8684

5. Norwell 3.8604

6. Foxboro 3.8513

7. Acton‐Boxboro 3.7679

8. Whitman‐Hanson 3.7456

(Just missed the cut: Franklin 3.7112, Newton South 3.7083, Dedham 3.6933, Natick 3.6398, Hanover 3.6255, Wellesley 3.6192)

 

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

1. Westborough 5.3296

2. King Philip 5.1052

3. Franklin 5.0731

4. Hopkinton 4.9804

5. Haverhill 4.7393

6. Billerica 4.6547

7. North Andover 4.6275

8. Concord‐Carlisle 4.3992

(Just missed the cut: Melrose 4.3378,Westwood 4.0521, Needham 4.0511, Tewksbury 3.9923)

 

WINTER SEASON

 

BOYS BASKETBALL

1. BC High 17.8966

2. Malden Catholic 15.5266

3. Newton North 14.8797

4. Andover 14.8231

5. Springfield Central 14.6678

6. St. Mary’s (Lynn) 14.2560

7. Mansfield 13.8152

8. Franklin 13.2156

(Just missed the cut: Taunton 13.0353, Lexington 12.5487, Beverly 12.1885)

 

GIRLS BASKETBALL

1. Norwood 19.0436

2. Medfield 17.3920

3. Andover 17.3119

4. Wachusett 16.8081

5. Springfield Central 16.4657

6. Central Catholic 16.0722

7. Bishop Feehan 15.4787

8. Franklin 15.3135

(Just missed the cut: Woburn 15.2159, Oliver Ames 15.1602, Walpole 14.6551, Medway 14.1303)

 

BOYS HOCKEY

1. St. John’s Prep. 4.4833

2. Xaverian 4.1593

3. Hingham 4.0064

4. Catholic Memorial 4.0033

5. Austin Prep 3.9358

6. Arlington 3.9064

7. Belmont 3.8889

8. Pope Francis 3.7952

(Just missed the cut: Braintree 3.7687, Marshfield 3.2449, Tewksbury 3.2150, Malden Catholic 3.1673, Reading 3.1426, BC High 3.1055)

 

GIRLS HOCKEY

1. Austin Prep 3.9709

2. Arlington 2.5989

3. Duxbury 2.7490

4. Braintree 2.1323

5. Notre Dame (H) 2.1281

6. King Philip 2.1231

7. Pembroke 2.0758

8. Natick 2.0229

(Just missed the cut: St. Mary’s (L) 2.0012, Acton‐Boxboro 1.9280, Shrewsbury 1.7580, Sandwich 1.7122, Westwood 1.6883, Andover 1.6384, Canton 1.6306, Algonquin 1.6259 11 Needham 1.6132)

 

SPRING SEASON

 

BASEBALL

1. Austin Prep 7.7771

2. Franklin 7.5173

3. Taunton 6.8444

4. Milton 6.6921

5. Medfield 6.6628

6. Catholic Memorial 6.3577

7. Shrewsbury 6.0907

8. BC High 5.9916

(Just missed the cut: King Philip 5.7766, Mansfield 5.4754, North Attleboro 5.3269, Saint John’s 5.1604, Taconic 5.1165, Westford Academy 5.0771)

 

BOYS LACROSSE

1. St. John’s Prep 15.3688

2. Lincoln‐Sudbury 13.6591

3. BC High 13.2821

4. Hingham 13.2616

5. Medfield 12.7286

6. Longmeadow 12.7028

7. Duxbury 11.4906

8. Norwell 11.4773

(Just missed the cut: Acton‐Boxboro 11.1253, Franklin 10.8242, Needham 10.7542, Billerica 10.5087)

 

GIRLS LACROSSE

1. Notre Dame (H) 16.7573

2. Walpole 15.4205

3. Westwood 14.6345

4. Lincoln‐Sudbury 14.4144

5. Wellesley 14.0839

6. Newburyport 13.8275

7. Central Catholic 13.6072

8. Franklin 13.3395

(Just missed the cut: Concord‐Carlisle 13.1029, Longmeadow 12.5336, Medfield 11.1004 Hingham 10.6349)

 

SOFTBALL

1. Bishop Feehan 7.6808

2. King Philip 7.5188

3. Taunton 7.3628

4. Wachusett 7.1117

5. Lowell 7.0451

6. St. Mary’s (Lynn) 6.9878

7. Central Catholic 6.9486

8. Methuen 6.5139

(Just missed the cut: Billerica 6.4725, Hampshire 6,2827, Reading 6.1940, Peabody 6.1088, Attleboro 6.0734)

 

BOYS TENNIS

1. Weston 5.4927

2. Brookline 5.1866

3. Lexington 5.1264

4. Acton‐Boxboro 5.0715

5. Concord‐Carlisle 5.0369

6. Wellesley 4.5517

7. Newton North 4.2380

8. St. John’s Prep. 4.1109

(Just missed the cut: Westborough 3.7715, Winchester 3,7631, Duxbury 3.7049, Belmont 3.6834 7 BC High 3.4416

 

GIRLS TENNIS

1 Lincoln‐Sudbury 5.1975

2 Lexington 5.1871

3 Brookline 4.7272

4 Andover 4.3514

5 Winchester 4.1437

6 Boston Latin 4.1125

7 Needham 4.0097

8 Hingham 3.9262

(Just missed the cut: Acton‐Boxboro 3.8284, Arlington 3.8185, Hamilton-Wenham 3.6929, Scituate High 3.6627, Westborough 3.6460, Concord‐Carlisle 3.5097, Wellesley 3.4985

 

VOLLEYBALL

1. Needham 4.7211

2. Westford Academy 4.0296

3. St. John’s Prep 3.7951

4. Winchester 3.7561

5. Lexington 3.5686

6. Lowell 3.4848

7. North Quincy 3.4747

8. Greater New Bedford 3.3975

(Just missed the cut: Westfield 3.3309, Milford 3.3267, Natick 3.1783, Newton South 3.0756)

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