6A-West is working through the kinks of the new basketball schedule with a nine-team conference

The state’s largest prep basketball classification has had to deal with scheduling challenges in the first year of the current biennium cycle.

There are now nine teams in the 6A West Conference, with Fort Smith Northside joining the West team, which previously consisted of eight teams. Prior to this cycle, Northside was in the central conference separating the two Fort Smith schools, as Southside stayed west.

The last time the 6A-West had a nine-team conference was in the 2005-06 school year when Springdale Har-Ber, a year before he played varsity football, competed in the other varsity sports including volleyball, basketball , baseball, softball and soccer. The conference used a 16-game schedule that year. The following year, Russellville moved east to 7A-Central, leaving 7A-West with a standard eight-team format.

Basketball, perhaps more than other sports outside of football, has to deal with all sorts of time challenges that didn’t exist around 17 years ago. There are now four cities with two schools in the conference, making it difficult to agree home dates on Tuesday and Friday nights as most schools want homecoming or color day on a Friday.

The conference’s athletic directors sought input from the league’s coaches, and eventually all issues were ironed out.

“There were some criteria that everyone agreed on from the start,” said Southside Boys basketball coach Stewart Adams. “In the four cities with two teams, we have to make sure that when one team is at home, the other is away. Everyone wanted at least four Friday home games because that’s when you have your homecoming. Also wanted to try and balance the open dates, keep back-to-back home or street dates to a minimum. You can’t do it perfectly, but we wanted to meet these most important criteria first.

Springdale athletic director Wayne Stehlik said the new schedule hit those key marks.

“I was so impressed with the coaches’ work in creating this schedule,” Stehlik said. “They worked on several models until they found this one that we would all accept.”

The schedule has some unique twists, Adams said.

“The team you play week one might not be the first time you play through second time,” Adams said. “The main thing was the home game schedule of the two school cities and that each team gets four home games on Friday night.”

The new schedule, along with the Arkansas Activities Association’s newly passed rule now allowing for a 30-game regular season schedule, gives schools more flexibility trying to fit a 16-game conference roster within that 30-game limit.

“I love the new format, how we can manipulate our schedule to play 30 games,” said Bentonville girls’ coach Tom Halbmaier. “If you have a young team, 30 individual games is an advantage because you can practice a bit between games. Also, you rarely get three games in a row during a state tournament, so you might not get into an in-season tournament that has a three-game-in-three-day format.”

A new wrinkle is the open date, with nine teams and 18 game dates, each team will have two open dates and balancing was also a complication.

“I like the farewell dates,” said Halbmaier. “It could give a team the ability to schedule a game and put in the date. I’m already looking at this open data and seeing what kind of teams I could add to the schedule.”

One place where the 6A West teams could find games could be the 6A Central, which only has seven teams. Each team will have 16 games and two open dates in the 18-game schedule.

The coaches and sporting directors have also decided not to play three-game weeks, as was the case in 2005. Instead, the teams will play two conference games in December – on December 20th and 22nd.

“We didn’t want the three-game weeks because we could get that situation (because of possible winter weather),” Adams said. “The weather is usually a bit better before January 1st, so we decided to host two games in December. There are a lot of small school conferences that play league games before Christmas so this is not unique.”

With COVID-19 cancellations in 2021 and winter postponements in 2022, Stehlik said it made sense to move games to December.

“We knew the coaches would create one schedule with games in December and another schedule with three game weeks starting in January,” Stehlik added. “The last two seasons of cancellations have been a lesson for all of us that it’s important to be flexible. We had no problem with conference games in December.”

2022-23 6A-West Basketball Schedule

Friday 17 December 2022

Bentonville West @ Bentonville (boys)

Saturday 18 December 2022

Bentonville West @ Bentonville (Girls)

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Springdale @Fayetteville

FS Southside @ Bentonville West

Rogers Heritage @ Springdale Har-Ber

[email protected]

Thursday 22 December 2022

Springdale @ Rogers legacy

Rogers @ Springdale Har-Ber

Bentonville @ FS Southside

FS Northside @ Bentonville West

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

FS South Side @ Springdale

Springdale Har-Ber @ FS Northside

[email protected]

Friday January 6th

Springdale @ Bentonville West

Bentonville @ Springdale Har-Ber

Rogers Heritage @ FS Southside

FS North Side @ Fayetteville

Tuesday January 10th

west

Springdale Har-Ber @ Springdale

Rogers @FS Northside

Bentonville West @ Rogers Legacy

Fayetteville @ Bentonville

Friday January 13th

Springdale Har-Ber @ Fayetteville

FS south side @ FS north side

Roger’s Legacy @ Bentonville

Bentonville West @ Rogers

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Rogers @Springdale

Springdale Har-Ber @ FS Southside

FS North Side @ Bentonville

Fayetteville @ Rogers Legacy

Friday, January 20, 2023

Springdale @ FS Northside

Bentonville West @ Springdale Har-Ber

FS South Side @ Fayetteville

Rogers legacy @ Rogers

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Bentonville @Springdale

Rogers @FS Southside

FS Northside @ Rogers Legacy

Fayetteville @ Bentonville West

Friday, January 27, 2023

Springdale @ Springdale Har-Ber

FS north side @ Rogers

Rogers Heritage @ Bentonville West

[email protected]

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Fayetteville @ Springdale Har-Ber

FS north side @ FS south side

Rogers @ Bentonville West

Bentonville @ Rogers Legacy

Friday February 3, 2023

Rogers Legacy @ Springdale

Springdale Har-Ber @ Rogers

FS South Side @ Bentonville

Bentonville West @ FS Northside

Tuesday February 7, 2023

Springdale @ FS Southside

FS Northside @ Springdale Har-Ber

[email protected]

Bentonville @ Bentonville West

Friday February 10, 2023

Bentonville West @Springdale

Springdale Har-Ber @ Bentonville

FS Southside @ Rogers Legacy

Fayetteville @ FS north side

Tuesday February 14, 2023

Springdale @ Bentonville

FS South Side @ Rogers

Rogers Heritage @ FS North Side

Bentonville [email protected]

Friday February 17, 2023

[email protected]

Springdale Har-Ber @ Rogers Heritage

Bentonville West @ FS Southside

[email protected]

Tuesday February 21, 2023

Springdale @ Rogers

FS Southside @ Springdale Har-Ber

Bentonville @ FS Northside

Roger’s legacy @ Fayetteville

Friday February 24, 2023

FS North Side @ Springdale

Springdale Har-Ber @ Bentonville West

Fayetteville @ FS Southside

Rogers @ Rogers legacy

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