The Bethel Braves entered the 3A state high school girls basketball tournament last week as the 11th-ranked team statewide under a new Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) that made its debut with the 2016-17 season.
The inaugural ratings were used to seed teams for the regionals and state tourney after they qualified through the district playoffs. The rankings were updated on a daily basis throughout the season by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), using a formula comprised of three weighted sections:
• Winning percentage (25 percent).
• Opponent’s winning percentage (50 percent).
• Winning percentage of the opponent’s opposition (25 percent).
Teams were neither penalized no rewarded for playing opponents in lower or higher classification than their own (for instance, a 3A team versus a 2A). Score differentials also had no bearing on RPI.
The system was approved by the WIAA Executive Board last September after a survey of school administrators and basketball coaches found support for an RPI to seed the state championships.
An RPI committee formed by the WIAA monitored the formula throughout the season to recommend any possible changes of the systemin future years. Committee members included athletic directors and coaches representing every WIAA classification and district.
Going into the 3A girls state tournament March 2-4 at the Tacoma Dome, the teams with higher RIP rankings than Bethel were the top 10 (in order) of Bishop Blanchet, Gig Harbor, Lincoln, Bellevue, Stanwood, Snohomish, Kamiakim, Shorewood, Mercer Island, and Garfield. Mercer Island, ranked ninth, knocked Bethel out of the tourney in the first round. The Islanders and Bishop Blanchet reached the championship game, won by Mercer Island 52-47.
WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said the RIP “is a step toward improving a great tournament.”
Supporters of the RPI say the system is an accurate reflection of all regular-season games. Teams were seeded into the regionals based on their RPI ranking versus previous criteria that was based on how teams finished in the district playoffs.
RPI is also used in college basketball to determine seeds for the NCAA tournament.
WIAA officials said RPI may be introduced to other sports starting next school year.
Besides Bethel, Eatonville, ranked as high as 12th among 2A girls teams, was the only team from south Pierce County that cracked the top 20 of an RPI. The Cruisers reached the district playoffs but didn’t advance to the regionals.