Prep basketball: Central U.P., Skyline conferences merging in hoops only

HARRIS – Effective for the 2014-15 high school basketball season, the Central U.P. and Skyline conferences will be merging to form a new conference that has yet to be named, Bark River-Harris athletic director Nick Nolde said Wednesday following a conference meeting.

“The change is only for basketball,” Nolde said. “There was a lot of discussion for volleyball also, but not everyone was on the same page. Maybe in the future.”

The new conference will be split into East and West divisions. The West will include Bark River-Harris, Carney-Nadeau, Forest Park, North Central and North Dickinson. The East will contain Big Bay de Noc, Mid Peninsula, Munising, Rapid River and Superior Central. Republic-Michigamme will be leaving the conference after this season.

“At the end of the year we will award East and West division winners,” said Nolde. “We talked about a conference championship, but we’re not quite ready for that. To figure out the overall champion, teams will play teams in their division twice and teams in the other division at least once, so every school will have at least 13 conference games which gives us flexibility.

“That allows Forest Park, which has rivalries with Norway, Iron Mountain and Kingsford, to keep those going. It also allows us to look for some Class C schools, maybe Escanaba or Gladstone.”

As far as individual awards, Nolde said the conference will have an overall all-conference first and second team, rather than giving out awards based on division.

The Skyline Conference is currently run by secretary Dwaine Anderson, an administrator at Forest Park. Mid Peninsula athletic director Gary Bryak is the Central U.P. Conference secretary. Nolde said those two officers will take preliminary leadership of the new conference as well.

“We’ll keep them in leadership for now, but we’ll elect officers every two years,” he said.

A name for the new conference will be voted on at the spring meeting. The student bodies of the included schools will be allowed to put forth suggestions, Nolde said.