High school coaches from Pittsfield to Harwich have been sitting on pins and needles waiting for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association to release its initial power ratings for the winter season.
Those ratings were released Friday afternoon, and in basketball, it was very good news for a number of teams.
Three high school teams — the Taconic boys, along with the Wahconah and Hoosac Valley girls all earned No. 1 ranking honors in the inaugural series of power ratings. The ratings were released as of Jan. 21, but may not include every game each team in the commonwealth has played.
As with college basketball RPIs or NET ratings, the MIAA power ratings are snapshots where the teams are at a particular point in time. As more games are played, and more games are reported, the ratings could change dramatically.
The top 32 teams, based on the end of the year ratings, will be seeded in a statewide tournament with five divisions. In addition to the 32 teams, any team at .500 or better that was not part of the first 32 will be eligible to play.
The cutoff date for qualification is Thursday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. The tournament brackets will be unveiled on Friday, Feb. 25, and the tournament will begin the following Monday.
Bill Heaphy's Taconic squad has hung three consecutive Western Massachusetts Division II banners in the new gymnasium on Valentine Road. The Green and Gold, long considered one of the top teams in Western Mass., is sitting atop the rankings in Division V.
By virtue of Taconic being considered a vocational school, it has dropped from Division II to Division V. Had Taconic gone to Division IV, the Green and Gold would currently be the No. 3 seed in that field.
But Taconic, with its 9.8039 rating, is the clear No. 1 in Division V. Baystate Academy is second at 6.2553, followed by Hoosac Valley at 4.6595. Rounding out the top five is the Academy of the Pacific Rim of Hyde Park (4.0458) and Westport (3.6980).
Division V has 84 teams in it, with a majority of Berkshire County teams falling in this division. Two others, Mount Greylock and Monument Mountain, are safely within the top 32. With the first ratings, Bob Thistle's Mounties are 16th and Scott Sibley's Millionaires are 32nd.
The Wahconah boys are the top Berkshire team in the 60-team Division IV field. Coach Dustin Belcher's Warriors were rated fourth at 7.3710. Wahconah is one of two county teams in the top 10, as Randy Koldys' Monument Mountain Spartans are 10th with a rating of 4.9714.
Dorchester's Jeremiah Burke High School is No. 1 in Division IV with a rating of 17.5813. Randolph (12.2339), Fenway (7.5813), Wahconah and Cape Cod Academy (6.9712) round out the top five.
Three other Western Mass. schools are listed in the D-IV Top 25. Springfield International Charter School, the former Sabis, is ninth, while South Hadley is 16th and Frontier is 25th.
There are 69 teams in Division III, with Pittsfield and Belchertown the only Western Mass. teams. Coach Mitch Scace's Generals are currently inside the top 32 at 28th (1.6544). Belchertown is 19th (3.3850).
The top five schools in D-III are all Eastern Mass. teams. St. Mary's of Lynn (14.7503) is No. 1, followed by New Mission (10.4533), Boston Latin (9.4091) and Norton (7.8563).
The Hoosac and Wahconah girls are among the best in Western Massachusetts girls basketball, and their position atop their respective divisions should be no surprise.
Division V is a Western Mass. stronghold, with coach Holly McGovern's Hurricanes leading the way with a 13.7652 rating. Hoosac is one of four Berkshire County teams and one of seven Western Mass. teams in the D-V Top 10.
Behind the Hurricanes is No. 2 SICS with a 11.3251 rating, while Matt Mickle's Taconic squad is third with a rating of 10.6050. Carver (7.6860) and Millis (7.6248) round out the top five.
Here is where it gets interesting because Drury (6.8395) and Lee (5.3960) are in the top 10. Ian Downey's Blue Devils are ranked sixth and Rick Puleri's Wildcats are eighth. Western Mass. foes Palmer, Monson, Turners Falls and Granby follow from ninth to 12th.
Coach Liz Kay's Warriors have dropped two games to Hoosac Valley this year, but otherwise have been the gold standard in Division IV across the commonwealth.
Wahconah is the No. 1-ranked team right now with a power rating of 14.0012, while Easthampton is second with a rating of 10.7435. South Hadley is right behind in third at 10.5758. Rounding out the top five are Littleton (8.7308) and Cathedral (8.5463).
Four other Western Mass. schools are in the top 20 in the 65-team Division IV field. Monument Mountain is one of them, and coach John Perreault's Spartans have a 2.9129 rating and are ranked 19th. Southwick (10), Frontier (14) and Hampshire Regional (17) are the other top 20 teams.
Pittsfield is the lone Berkshire County team and one of three Western Mass. teams in the 62-team Division III field. Joe Racicot's Generals are the highest-ranked team.
Pittsfield is currently seventh in the D-III lineup with a power rating of 8.6592. Belchertown is 23rd while Putnam is 52nd, and the Beavers would be on the outside looking in of the tournament field.
Medway is the No. 1 team in the first D-III rankings with a 13.5051 rating, while St. Mary's of Lynn is second at 12.0419. Berkshire County basketball fans might remember the last time the MIAA played state championship games in Basketball, D-V leader Hoosac routed St. Mary's 66-49 in the 2019 Division III title game.
The rest of the top five is Bishop Fenwick (11.3344), Norwell (11.0967) and Rockland (11.0543).