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Democracy Prep girls basketball wins appeal to move to 5A

In a rare move, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Realignment Committee approved Democracy Prep’s appeal to move its girls basketball team to Class 5A, the NIAA’s top classification.

Democracy Prep, which won the Class 2A state title in February, was slated to move to 3A for the upcoming school year, which begins the next two-year realignment cycle. The committee unanimously voted to approve the school’s appeal at a Realignment Committee appeals meeting Wednesday.

Under the NIAA’s rules, a team cannot be realigned and skip a classification. The rule was brought up during football realignment when the committee attempted to place Rancho in 5A, based on the NIAA’s rubric points system, after being in 3A the last two seasons. The committee cited its rules that Rancho could not skip 4A and placed them in that classification.

But after hearing Democracy Prep’s appeal, the committee made an exception and agreed to approve its appeal, citing the team’s success against teams in higher classifications and growing numbers in its girls basketball program.

Democracy Prep finished 27-3 last season with four of its wins coming against 5A teams, three of whom were playoff teams. The Blue Knights won each game by an average of 25 points, and their only losses were against out-of-state opponents.

The NIAA approved a similar appeal when SLAM Academy’s wrestling team wanted to move to 5A from 3A, skipping 4A, following the 2020 season. SLAM Academy has won the last two 5A state wrestling team titles.

Centennial’s appeal to have its boys basketball team stay in 5A was also approved. The Bulldogs were supposed to move to 4A but will remain in 5A. They went 14-8 and finished sixth in the 5A Southern League in Karen Weitz’s first season as the coach.

Las Vegas High’s appeal to keep its boys basketball team in 4A and not move to 5A was denied, as was Palo Verde’s similar appeal to keep its girls basketball team in 4A.

At a meeting last month, the Realignment Committee preliminary approved 5A boys and girls basketball to be made up of only Southern teams for the upcoming two-year cycle.

Twelve Southern Nevada boys basketball teams will make up 5A; Bishop Gorman, Liberty, Durango, Coronado, Mojave, Las Vegas, Desert Pines, Spring Valley, Arbor View, Silverado, Foothill and Centennial.

Class 5A girls basketball will have 14 teams; Centennial, Liberty, Coronado, Spring Valley, Bishop Gorman, Desert Oasis, Faith Lutheran, Shadow Ridge, Las Vegas, Desert Pines, Clark, Palo Verde, Arbor View and Democracy Prep.

In other actions, Tech’s appeal to move its flag football team to 4A from 5A was denied. Arbor View’s wrestling team had its appeal to move up to 5A approved.

The committee approved realignment proposals and postseason tournament formats for all winter sports. The realignment proposals and tournament formats are still pending final approval from the NIAA Board of Control, whose spring meetings are April 12 and 13.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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