Reach champion rankings, 2017 part 4

Where Nationals is a regular thing.

Here ends the ranking of Reach championship-winning clubs. The rankings from the CBC era are here, while the first two parts of the modern era are here and here.

The top six teams are no strangers to national championships. Between them, they account for 15 titles and 26 final appearances, and you have to go back to the 2000 Merivale-Ridley final to find a title match that didn’t feature at least one of these teams. These are the teams that have dominated the new millennium.

Here are the top six, with not much change from 2015:

  1. University of Toronto Schools (ON)
  2. Kennebecasis Valley HS (NB)
  3. St. George’s School (BC)
  4. Lisgar CI (ON) [up 3]
  5. London Central SS (ON) [down 1]
  6. Martingrove CI (ON)

I don’t think UTS at #1 is a surprise to anyone. UTS participated in Reach as far back as the CBC era, but they really broke out at the 2000 Ontario Provincials with a sudden run to the semifinals after some absence. Their first peak from 2001-04 saw four consecutive provincial titles and two national titles, all while putting up dominant playing statistics that would be tops until very recently. After that, they continued picking up provincial titles and a few final appearances in a relative “lull”, then nabbed two more titles this decade to cement themselves as the winningest club. A new coach hasn’t slowed down the team; they cruised through most of Nationals this year and are expected to do well in the years to come.

KV is firmly at #2, thanks to another title they picked up last year. Three titles and a further three runners-up should be enough to rest on, but they also are incredibly consistent. KV ended Fredericton’s long domination of New Brunswick in 2004, missed 2005 for job action, then qualified for Nationals every year since. In their 13 National appearances, they have finished at least in the top half of the field every time. Not even UTS can claim this consistency, though they still have quite a bit to go to reach another team…

St. George’s remaining at #3 might be more surprising. They have mostly faded from national contention after the retirement of their coach who guided them in the ’90s and ’00s, though they still pick up some appearances as a BC representative. What keeps them ranked high is 20 National appearances (I can’t verify ’89 & ’90, which would add to that total). St. George’s was the team to beat in Reach until UTS took on that mantle. Their coach often lamented that the only thing that held them back from even more titles was Ontario’s grade 13 and all those old students dominating the ’90s (to be fair, Fredericton was often a better non-Ontario team than St. George’s during that period). I will still place St. George’s ahead of the remaining teams, but the next set are in a good position to rise further.

Lisgar, Central, and Martingrove are close to a coin flip. Lisgar has the most titles but is the least consistent, Central has been steady for a decade, while Martingrove has both history and an impressive consecutive appearance streak going (for an Ontario team). Here are National stats for the three:

Team Titles Finals Appearances
Lisgar CI 3 (’08, ’15, ’17) 3 (same) 5 (& ’11, ’16)
London Central SS 2 (’07, ’09) 4 (& ’12, ’14) 5 (& ’16)
Martingrove CI 1 (’14) 1 (same) 6 (& ’93, ’13, ’15-17)

All three each lead a different category. Martingrove, at first glance, appears a step below, but their strength in ’90s Ontario alongside Saunders shouldn’t be discounted (it is possible they also qualified in ’89 or ’90). Lisgar has the biggest jump forward; last time the rankings were done, they were lower in all categories compared to Central. For now, I think the order is fair, but even just next year’s results could alter the positions of all three.

And that concludes my Reach for the Top champion rankings. I try to find old results to help boost the reputations of clubs, but if you have further information, I’ll be glad to use it for later updating (like I did to elevate Saunders). I hope you enjoyed them!

Reach champion rankings, 2017 part 3

Turn of the millennium

I’m continuing the ranking of Reach championship-winning clubs. The rankings from the CBC era are found here, while the first part of the modern era is found here.

This next set of clubs mostly had their highlights during the turn of the millennium, 1995-2005. Sandy Stewart, the founder of the SchoolReach program, retired by this point, but the Reach program was in good shape: subscriptions were at their peak, provincial and national championships return to television, and new question styles (like shootouts and relays) were introduced. Reach alumni from the 1990s started establishing university clubs at Queen’s, Western and Waterloo, though Reach failed in their early-2000s attempt to get a university subscription program. The Reach circuit, as a whole, may not have had as much top-end strength as today, but it had a healthier population.

Part 2 of the modern era rankings:

  • 7. Saunders (ON) [up 5]
  • 8. Gloucester (ON) [down 3]
  • 9. Fredericton (NB) [up 1]
  • 10. Cobequid (NS) [down 2]
  • 11. Merivale (ON) [down 2]
  • 12. Woburn (ON) [down 1]

The biggest change of the whole list is Saunders’ rise. While Saunders’ four Nationals appearances in the five Thorsley years is impressive, I toned down their ranking before by attributing it all to the strength of one player. I was mistaken. Like the 1990 Oilers, Saunders could find success again without their star, and finished the 1999 final with one of the highest losing scores ever. There was clearly a good foundation to that club, and they deserved to be higher than originally placed. Unfortunately, they have been pretty much dormant this century, so that stops them from getting higher.

Gloucester drops because of the rise of other teams. Gloucester was probably the best program in Canada for the span of years I mentioned earlier, using different player compositions in all their National appearances. However, with the club inactive, they will continue to drop as other teams achieve success.

Fredericton gets a slight boost from my awareness of three straight finals, 1994-1996. I knew about their long dominance of New Brunswick, but taking it to the Ontario teams in an era of Ontario’s 5-year high schools is impressive (the St. George’s coach of the time claimed his school would have had many more titles had Ontario stopped at grade 12). Fredericton is still around, and may rise again.

Cobequid, Merivale, and Woburn all drop from other teams rising. Cobequid has come down from their 00s peak, while Merivale and Woburn can’t crack Nationals despite some playoff success provincially. None of these teams should be at risk of falling below the inactive clubs of last week, though.

The final installment comes next week. You can deduce who is in the top six, but I’ll reveal my ranks and reasoning then. The remaining top teams are all active, all have Nationals success, mostly all got their break in the top-heavy part of new millennium. Stay tuned!

Reach champion rankings, 2017 part 2

The early modern era

Today I begin ranking the Reach championship-winning clubs for the modern SchoolReach era. The rankings from the CBC era are found here.

The SchoolReach subscription program began right after the final CBC episodes of 1985. Schools enrolled to get sets of questions that were used either for intramural/interschool tournaments or local TV productions. Ontario teams were very active in these “lost” years. By 1988, a graduated regional/provincial/national system was re-established, with the help of coaches like Eric Stewart (BC), Chris Zarski (AB), Patricia Beecham-Cooper (ON), and Hans Budgey (NS). A few tournaments had television coverage, but national championships were done off-air in the early 1990s.

The teams for today’s set of rankings come from this part of the modern era. The clubs ranked 13-18 all had their one national title in the ’80s or ’90s and none returned for another nationals appearance (as far as I can tell). Most are inactive now.

Part 1 of the modern era rankings (sorry, I can’t make a numbered list start at 13):

  • 13. Bell (ON)
  • 14. Frontenac (ON) [up 2]
  • 15. St. Joseph’s (ON) [down 1]
  • 16. Earl Haig (ON) [down 1]
  • 17. Tagwi (ON) [up 1]
  • 18. Memorial Composite (NS) [down 1]

All of these teams were in the bottom 6 in 2015, but here’s my reasoning for the shuffles:

Frontenac had the single most dominant year of any of these teams. Their 1999 provincials R-value of 175% is not fully verified (derived from margins of victory rather than raw points), but was the best on record until Lisgar this year. At nationals, they beat national regulars (for the 1990s) Saunders 600-410 in the final; that is the highest championship-winning score and the highest combined score in a final. Frontenac deserves a little boost, but not as high as Bell, who could sustain some provincials appearances into the 21st century.

The Tagwi-Memorial swap is minor. Originally, Memorial had the edge because of their follow-up victory over the NAC champs from the U.S., but Tagwi never got their opportunity to try it. It was another disappointment for the Tagwi champs, coming after the fact that they never got the Reach trophy due to it being stuck in legal ownership limbo between Kate Andrews HS and the reincarnated SchoolReach program. Anyway, I have now given Tagwi the slight edge because their club remained active far longer than Memorial.

Next time, I’ll review the 7th to 12th place clubs. That cluster of teams, who mostly had their success near the turn of the millennium, will see the most change.

Reach champion rankings, 2017 part 1

The CBC era

I first ranked the Reach for the Top championship-winning clubs in 2015. I summarized the list here. They were split into CBC and modern eras, because there is significant differences in how clubs approached and prepared for the competition. I will be revisiting the rankings this summer.

I’ll emphasize that the lists are about championship-winning clubs. A school at least needs one title for a rank, regardless of how many consecutive final appearances they have. Clubs are ranked instead of individual teams: I try to take in a school’s whole body of work, rather than determine whether the 1973 team was better than the 2003 team. Because they earned a title in each era, Cobequid Educational Centre appears twice.

Part 1 is the CBC era list. Very little has changed, because the era is over and I don’t get much new information. Without further ado:

  1. Lorne Jenken (AB)
  2. Gonzaga (NL)
  3. Vincent Massey (Etobicoke, ON) [up 1]
  4. Oak Bay (BC) [up 1]
  5. O’Leary (AB) [down 2]
  6. Hillcrest (ON) [up 1]
  7. Glenlawn (MB) [down 1]
  8. Cobequid (NS)
  9. Roland Michener (ON)
  10. Kelvin (MB)
  11. Dakota (MB)
  12. Banting Memorial (ON)
  13. Central Peel (ON)
  14. Queen Elizabeth (NS)
  15. Deloraine (MB)
  16. Neil McNeil (ON)
  17. River East (MB)
  18. Kate Andrews (AB)
  19. Rideau (ON)

There are only minor changes. Here’s my rationale:

O’Leary has dropped. They have 2 known final appearances: the 1972 win and the 1974 loss. The 1972 win was the largest ever paradigm shift in the CBC era, and one of the most important ever. O’Leary is credited with the idea of practicing all year to lead up to a tournament. Unfortunately, they were quickly outclassed by their provincial rival Lorne Jenken at their own game. I think my earlier impressions placed too much emphasis on their innovation without considering the hard reality of not many results. Interestingly, their drop benefits Oak Bay, who pretty much solely represented British Columbia in all the years before 1972 and didn’t make use of a practice model.

Hillcrest is up slightly. I’ve had the opportunity to see more Ontario provincial games from the 1970s/80s. Hillcrest is more frequently there, but they lose out by not being the top (southern) Ontario team of a particular year. Their 2 final appearances is better than Glenlawn. Glenlawn had more national tournament appearances, but not the high finishes. I think I gave Glenlawn too much credit as the “highest-scoring final winner”; that title has since been lost to the discovery of Frontenac’s 600-410 victory.

For curiosity’s sake, I would place Dryden (the three-peat silver medallists of the 1970s) in the 7-9 range. I would consider them better than fellow northern Ontarians Roland Michener, who got their multiple national appearances in the relatively easier 1980s.

The upcoming modern era rankings, which I will split into three parts, will see a bit more change. Some of that is due to results since 2015, while other changes come from discoveries from the 1990s. These rankings will show up later in the summer.

The R-Value

The points you gave me, nothing else can save me, SOS

Several of my posts have referenced the “R-value”. I think most people realize it is some sort of statistical measure of a team’s strength, but they are confused by either its derivation or interpretation. I am long overdue on clarifying this.

Primarily, the R-value is a mechanism to rank teams who all played the same questions, but did not necessarily play each other. The two most useful applications for this are the Ontario regional-to-provincial and the Ontario provincial prelim-to-playoff qualification systems. Both have a large number of teams that need to be condensed to a small fraction of top teams that would proceed to a higher level, and they all played (roughly) the same questions.

A mechanism exists for this purpose in the US. National Academic Quiz Tournaments’ college program has a couple hundred university teams compete in regional tournaments, all vying to qualify for 64 spots in their national championship (across two divisions). The regional tournaments are all played on the same set of questions. Originally, NAQT used an undisclosed “S-value” to statistically determine which teams, beyond regional winners, deserved a spot in the national championship. With the cooperation of regional hosts providing stats promptly, NAQT could quickly analyze the results and issue qualification invitations a few days after the regional tournaments. Prior to the 2010 season, Dwight Wynne proposed a modified formula made transparent so all teams could verify their values were correct. NAQT adopted this, and named the mechanism the “D-value” in honour of Dwight. In 2015, the Academic Competition Federation introduced their “A-value” for national qualifications, which largely followed the D-value formula.

The R-value is a D-value modified for SchoolReach. The “R” stands for “Reach” or “Reach for the Top”. SchoolReach results typically lack the detailed answer conversion information available in quizbowl, so the R-value is dependent on total points and strength of schedule. I also added 2 modifications that I will get to later.

The R-value asks: “How does a team compare to a theoretical average team playing on the question set?” It is answered in the form of a percentage; if a team has an R-value of 100%, they were statistically average for the field. A step-by-step process to get there:

Note: my primitive embedding of LaTeX in WordPress is used below. It is possible it may not appear in your browser.

  • First, calculate all teams’ round-robin points-per-game (RRPPG). All games which occur in a round-robin system are included, even if a team plays another team multiple times. Playoffs, tiebreaking games, and exhibition matches are excluded. If certain games are known to be “extended” (for example, double-length), that is reflected in the “RR games” total.
  • RRPPG=\frac{RRPts}{RRG}
  • With the RRPPGs known, determine each team’s round-robin opponent average PPG (RROppPPG). This is the average of the PPGs of each opponent a team played, double- or triple- counting where appropriate if they faced each other multiple times. Note: this is different from a team’s average points against, which is a different statistic that is not used in this analysis.
  • RROppPPG=\frac{RRPPG_{opp_1} +RRPPG_{opp_2} +...+RRPPG_{opp_n}}{RR games}
  • The question set’s average points is also needed. This covers all pools and all sites where the questions were used for the purpose of the rank. I determine this average through total RR points and total RR games, so larger sites that have more games do end up with a larger influence on the set average.
  • SetPPG=\frac{\sum{RRPts}}{\sum{RRG}}
  • Strength of schedule (SOS) is a factor to determine how strong a team’s opponents were compared to facing an average set of opponents for the field. A value above 1 indicates a tougher than average schedule; below 1 is a lower than average schedule. In reasonably balanced pools, it is typical to have top teams below 1 and bottom teams above 1 – a top team doesn’t play itself, but its high point tally contributes to the total of one of its weaker opponents. Also, by comparing across multiple pools/sites, SOS can give an overview of how strong a pool/site was.
  • SOS=\frac{RROppPPG}{SetPPG}
  • Now for the biggest leap: the points a team earned must be modified to account for how strong its schedule was. Racking up 400 PPG is far more difficult against national contenders than against novices. Adjusted RRPPG multiplies points by the SOS factor – a tougher schedule gives a team a higher adjusted point total. This adjusted value theoretically represents a team’s PPG if they faced a slate of average teams. Note: this value is not shown in result tables.
  • RRPPG_{adj}=RRPPG \times SOS
  • This value is suitable on its own for ranking. However, I add an extra step of normalizing for the set, so I can compare across years. Earning 400 PPG is far more difficult when the set average is 200 compared to a set average of 300. For example, the late ’90s/early ’00s had much higher set point totals than today (through different formats), and a normalization is needed to compare historical teams of that era to today. The calculated result is the raw R-value, which I convert to a percentage for easier comprehension of how much different from average a team is.
  • Rval_{raw}=\frac{RRPPG_{adj}}{SetPPG} \times 100\%

Raw R-value is the number I use for most comparison purposes. In earlier posts, I tried to show some examples of how this statistic is useful for predicting future performance (especially playoffs) and analyzing outlier results. If R-value is to be used for any sort of qualification system, however, it needs to account for the universally-accepted idea that it is most important to win games. Almost all tournaments use final ranks based primarily on winning (either in playoffs or just prelim results). A team with a low (raw) R-value that finishes ahead of a team with a high R-value deserves qualification just as much (if not more than) teams below them in the standings. The actual R-value is then calculated, based on NAQT’s system (quoting from their D-value page):

After the raw values are computed, they are listed in order for each [site] and a correction is applied to ensure that invitations do not break the order-of-finish at [a site]. Starting at the top of each [site], each team is checked to see if it finished above one or more teams with higher D-values. If it did, then that team and every team between it and the lowest team with a higher D-value are given the mean D-value of that group and ranked in order by their finish.

Let’s say a site winner had a raw R-value of 120% and the runner-up had a final upset while finishing with a raw R-value of 140%. Under this adjustment, both teams end up with the mean, 130%, for their true R-value. The winner receives a boost for finishing above one or more stronger teams, while the lower teams receive a penalty for not reaching their “potential”. The true R-values would then be compared across pools/sites for qualification purposes; if tied teams straddle the cutoff for qualification, invites are issued in order of rank at the tournament.

I do deviate slightly from this formula, though. It is possible, but rare, for the top-ranked team in this average to end up with a lower R-value for finishing higher than a stronger team (e.g: 1st 120%, 2nd 80%, 3rd 130%; all teams get 110%). I don’t believe this should ever happen. If it does, I modify the averaging by this algorithm:

  • First, follow the NAQT algorithm
  • If the first team in the averaging has their R-value lower than their raw R-value, ignore the last team (which has a higher raw R-value than the first team)
  • Proceed to the team one rank above the formerly-last team and attempt the R-value average again. Repeat until the first team improves upon their R-value.
  • Continue the NAQT algorithm with the next team after the new set of averaged teams

Look at the 2016 Ontario Provincials results for an example. Woburn had a very high raw R-value (131.8%), but finished very low (22nd). Under the basic D-value algorithm, 4th-placed London Central would have joined the big set of teams all the way down to Woburn, and ended up with a decrease in their R-value, thanks to the many intermediary teams with low raw R-values. Instead, Woburn was ignored, and the next-lowest team with a higher raw R-value (Hillfield at 132.9%) was tested. Again, this would drop Central’s R-value because of the low value for intermediary Marc Garneau. It is only an average with 5th-placed Waterloo that allows Central to improve on their raw result. From this, the algorithm goes to the next “unaveraged” team, Marc Garneau, who starts the group all the way down to Woburn because they earn a slight R-value boost. 6th through 22nd end up with a final R-value of 110.6% each.

And that’s how you get the R-value. The math isn’t that complicated, but it does require detailed number-crunching, especially for the opponent PPG step. Until more thorough result reporting occurs in SchoolReach, it is probably the best analysis that can be done with the information available. Thankfully, it is a fairly reliable metric for team performance, and I hope to show some examples in future posts.

2017 Nationals preview

Horton hears a Who-am-I!

After a quick turnaround from Ontario provincials, the Reach for the Top national championship will be decided next weekend. Sixteen teams have been invited from across Canada to compete in Toronto for a title that has passed between schools for more than fifty years. Those teams (sorted by province):

British Columbia

Collingwood School

  • Most recent national result: none
  • Best national result (on file): none

Sir Winston Churchill SS

  • Most recent national result: 11th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 5th (2008)

Templeton SS

  • Most recent national result: none
  • Best national result (on file): none

Two new teams from BC this year. I thought Templeton may have earned one appearance in the mid-2000s, but I have no records for that period. Meanwhile, Sir Winston Churchill is a very regular qualifier, though they have struggled to get out of the bottom half this decade. I have no information about the BC competition, but at least one team from the province has made top 6 with >100% R-value in almost every year of the past decade. New teams are very much an unknown: will a lack of experience hurt them, or are they a surprise that comes out of nowhere?

Alberta

Old Scona Academic School

  • Most recent national result: 4th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 4th (2014, 2016)

The Renert School

  • Most recent national result: 15th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 15th (2016)

Rundle College

  • Most recent national result: none
  • Best national result (on file): none

Old Scona leads the Alberta cohort again with yet another Nationals qualification; they are probably the best modern era program to not win a title (yet). Despite all the appearances, they are often stuck in the 5th-8th range indicative of quarterfinal losses. Renert School gave a close match in the Alberta final, but they would need a big improvement from last year to make some noise in their second appearance. Rundle College is actually the 4th-place Alberta team after the third finisher dropped; I think they will looking for just a few wins as a goal.

Manitoba

St. Paul’s HS

  • Most recent national result: 8th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 3rd (2010)

Kelvin HS

  • Most recent national result: 7th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (1970)

Note: Kelvin’s best result in the modern era is likely their 4th place in 2003. Manitoba is a very active province (for its population) in SchoolReach, and that has fostered good competition as far back as the early CBC years. In recent years, the two Manitoba teams usually make the quarterfinals, and I would not be surprised to see a similar result this year.

Ontario

University of Toronto Schools

  • Most recent national result: 3rd (2015)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2002-03, 2012-13)

Lisgar CI

  • Most recent national result: 3rd (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2008, 2015)

Martingrove CI

  • Most recent national result: 5th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2014)

These three Ontario teams will enter as favourites. Lisgar is fresh off of record R-values at the regional and provincial level, while UTS got through a tough playoff run after an unexpected low seed. Martingrove is a step below, but this is their fifth consecutive Nationals appearance, which is no small feat in the fierce Ontario competition. I think a UTS-Lisgar final is likely, but both teams have had surprise losses in the last 15 months at various levels of competition (the UTS regional loss last year being most noticeable). Watch out for one of these teams to break Kennebecasis Valley’s national R-value record of 145%, set in 2010.

Quebec

Marianopolis College

  • Most recent national result: 9th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 5th (2014)

My previous opinions on CEGEPs in Reach still hold. That being said, I respect that the team is legitimately competing. Unfortunately, CEGEP team compositions are entirely new each year, and without current results from the provincial tournament, I have no way to measure how strong the team is.

New Brunswick

Kennebecasis Valley HS

  • Most recent national result: 1st (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2010-11, 2016)

Saint John HS

  • Most recent national result: none
  • Best national result (on file): none

Kennebecasis Valley will defend their national title in their record-continuing twelfth consecutive national appearance. They lost some players to graduation, but their incredible consistency in fostering talented players means that the squad is the best challenger to the Ontario juggernauts this year. I think they should still at least make the semis. Despite often finishing highly in New Brunswick, I think this is Saint John HS’s first national appearance; they just always got locked out by Fredericton in the ’90s and KV in the ’00s before Reach started awarding a second invitation.

Nova Scotia

Auburn Drive HS

  • Most recent national result: 10th (2008)
  • Best national result (on file): 10th (2008)

Horton HS

  • Most recent national result: 10th (2007)
  • Best national result (on file): 3rd (1998)

Nova Scotia is a blast from the past this year! Both teams return after a decade’s absence, with different histories. Auburn Drive had one good year in 2008, then got stuck in the provincial midfield with Cobequid and the other HRM teams dominating. Horton, meanwhile, is reviving their club from a dormancy since 2010; before that, they were the team to beat in the province in the ’90s and early ’00s. Cobequid’s run of national appearances (all but one year since 2009) has ended with a third place in the provincial competition.

And those are the 16 teams. Everyone plays each other in the lengthy Saturday round-robin, which will seed teams for the Sunday/Monday playoffs (nearly every game is played individually, so the playoff process takes time). I foresee the quarterfinals containing the three Ontario teams, KV, Old Scona, and a team each from BC and Manitoba. The final quarterfinal spot is a tossup between Marianopolis or a second team from BC/Manitoba. Lisgar will probably get the highest R-value, but they have a history of faltering in critical playoff games: they have won 8 of their 18 semifinal/3rd place/final matches at the provincial and national levels (UTS has won 30 of 46 and Martingrove 10 of 16, in comparison).

I will be at Nationals. Thanks (and a disclosure) for the Lisgar team providing transportation during my sleeping hours. Despite the registration form, I will not act for Lisgar (or Reach) in any capacity; I will be an independent observer. This also means R-values will be delayed, but I will provide what updates and scores I can through the Twitter hashtag #ReachNats17

Good luck to all the competing teams!

2017 Ontario provincial results

Better late than never!

First off, apologies that this is late, but I’m back from travel now.

The 2017 SchoolReach Ontario provincial championships were held last week in Scarborough. 39 teams competed for ten playoff spots, and those teams then played their Monday rounds to determine the provincial champion and the three Nationals qualifiers.

The University of Toronto Schools won the tournament, with Lisgar CI and Martingrove CI claiming second and third. My results with R-values have been uploaded. Congratulations to both the winners and all the participating teams.

I’ll start with the pools, which can be gleaned from the results graphic Reach provided. There was better balance than some years, with the two extremes of pool B averaging 293.9 PPG and pool E averaging 261.5 PPG. Pool B’s high numbers weren’t just from Lisgar’s massive haul of points; the rest of the pool averaged 259.8 PPG and Lisgar had the toughest strength-of-schedule of any of the five pool winners. Pool E lacked any of my pre-tournament “tier 1” teams, though UCC was, in retrospect, worthy of assuming the “tier 1” role for that pool. Pool E also had a weaker midfield than the other pools. That being said, the variations of strength-of-schedule were not outlandish, and getting 2 playoff teams from each pool is usually the ideal scenario.

There were a few impressive “just-misses”. Pool B had the 12th, 13th, and 14th ranked teams (Oakville Trafalgar HS, Banting SS, and Neil McNeil HS), all of whom had R-values in the range of playoff teams. St. Joseph’s (of the Windsor variety) came from completely off my radar to one spot short of the playoffs.

The ten playoff teams were not too surprising. In fact, they all were listed on my top 15 preview, and all but one were in my top 10 (I went with Centennial CVI instead of Assumption CSS, which is how the head-to-head match, but not the final ranking, ended up). From final rank upward:

  • Merivale (10th). Considering the struggles this teams has had just to exist this year, a playoff appearance is a good finish.
  • RSGC (9th). Their “legit” team came this time, but their performance was surprising. Considering how well they did last year at UTS and also in History Bowl, this finish is a headscratcher. The good news for them is that the team returns next year, so they should improve.
  • Westmount (8th). Their prelim upset over UCC gave them a top seed, but R-value predicted a first-round loss to Assumption. Still, a good showing from the school and they have a solid intermediate group that will join the main team in the future.
  • PACE (7th). They survived Pool B with the R-value to show for it. In fact, their first-round match with London Central only had a 0.5% difference between the two – essentially a coin-flip.
  • Assumption (6th). Their prelim win over UTS was a shock, but they racked up the points throughout the day to justify their second-round appearance. They obviously improved since regionals; they lost to OTHS in the Burlington-Oakville title showdown in March.
  • London Central (5th). Amazingly, 5th would be considered an off-year for Central. Their R-value of 134% was 4th overall, but closer to the bubble teams than the top group.
  • UCC (4th). UCC lost four playoff games and finished 4th, thanks to the “highest-scoring loser” rule. This also happened to Massey in 2005 and St. Brother Andre in 2014. Nevertheless, they pulled off the highest losing score against UTS in the first round and Lisgar in the second; that’s what makes their feat more impressive.
  • Martingrove (3rd). Martingrove benefited from the easiest strength of schedule, but they knew they needed to pile on the points to get a strong seed. Unfortunately, UTS was just too strong in the semifinal, but they recovered to pick up third place and a Nationals spot. They will go deep in the Nationals playoffs as well.
  • Lisgar (2nd). Their raw R-value of 181% is the highest on record for a provincial tournament, and unlike other high R-values in history, they didn’t have a strength of schedule greater than 1. Lisgar just raked in points, including a 700 point game. Their 3730 prelim points are the most ever in the 7-game format, and their 533 PPG are behind only the 2001 and 2002 UTS teams, who had higher-scoring sets in their years. They cruised through the playoffs until they met only other team within striking distance of them. Once again, Lisgar has qualified for Nationals without winning a provincial title.
  • UTS (1st). That absence last year was a fluke. UTS is back and ready for a national title run. Their prelim R-value of 162% is also among the top 5 ever at a provincial tournament. UTS does need a clean run in the Nationals prelims, though, lest they take a strange loss (like they did against Assumption) and end up with a tough playoff road (each of last year’s top 4 as their four opponents).

And that’s how Ontario went. Midfield was a bit weak this year, but the top group are dominant. It would not surprise me to see Ontario 1-2-3 at Nationals this year.

But Nationals is another story. I’ll be back with a preview of the teams in time for next week’s final tournament.