Sunnyside back in the CBL/Big Nine fold

It's the same, but only different.

That's one way to look at the new league configuration the Sunnyside High School athletic teams will find themselves in for the 2008-09 school year.

Sunnyside competes in the Columbia Basin League, which has an even distribution of seven 3A schools-including Sunnyside-and seven 4A schools.

This winter, though, four of the 3A schools-Eastmont, Kennewick, Kamiakin and Southridge-all opted to play at the 4A level starting this fall.

That left Sunnyside, West Valley and Hanford as the only 3A schools left in the CBL, and the early indication was the other 4As wanted the three to move up or find another league to call home.

There has been a change of heart among the 4A schools, noted Sunnyside School Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole, as Hanford, Sunnyside and West Valley have been welcomed back into a newly configured CBL or, possibly, Big Nine league.

The catalyst for the change of mind, noted Cole, was likely due to pressure that would have been brought by the WIAA for the bigger schools to allow the 3As to compete with them.

"We were prepared to go to the WIAA if they would not have done that," said Cole.

Once again there will be a 14-team CBL or Big Nine, only now there will be 11 4A and three 3A schools.

Cole said there are still details to be worked out, like what the league will be called and how to count the games Sunnyside plays against the 4A schools.

One certainty is that Sunnyside will compete as a 3A school and seek playoff berths in the 3A classification. That's been the goal all along, Cole said, even if as a last resort the school would have needed to play in the 2A CWAC South.

Along with Hanford and West Valley, Sunnyside will compete in the postseason for State playoff berths with Spokane-area schools Rogers, Mt. Spokane, East Valley and North Central. That will make for a total of seven postseason foes on this side of the state vying for State tourney berths.

But that doesn't mean there isn't a bit of the unknown in this unfolding, topsy-turvy story.

Cole said the field of 3A teams in eastern Washington competing for State playoff berths may number eight, as Shadle Park, also of Spokane, is still deciding whether to compete as a 3A or a 4A.


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