Dec. 1, 2004 - The 5A and 4A won't be the only conferences with a new look when the fall sports season begins next August.

Realignment will shake up the Class 2A in the summer of 2005 when the conference expands from four regions to five. Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, formerly of the now defunct Desert Region, will move to a new region against five schools from Eastern Arizona and two from Tucson.

"The problem with the 2A is, geographically, we've struggled to put people in close regions," said 2A Conference President and Arizona Lutheran Athletic Director Doug Meyer.

The Class 2A is composed of schools with an enrollment between 201 and 449 students.

Many teams in the 2A travel lengthy distances to compete against the schools in its region. Including Pusch Ridge, only three 2A schools compete out of the Tucson-metro area, meaning extensive regular visits to schools as far away as Miami, located some 100-plus miles north of the city.

Conference officials designed the new alignment to cut down on some of those elongated trips, said Meyer.

The Lions' regional schedule will still include Tucson schools St. Gregory and Desert Christian. Filling out the region will be Hayden, Miami, Ray, San Carlos and San Manuel.

In the new region, Pusch Ridge will trade long-distance trips (more than 70-miles) to Baboquivari, Bisbee and Tombstone with Miami, San Carlos and Ray. San Carlos and Ray are each more than 100-miles away from the Christian school.

Left in the dust, as Pusch Ridge's wagons head east, are the rivalries that built up in the Desert Region against Benson, Bisbee and Tombstone.

"You work hard to build relationships with the players, coaches and fans," said PRCA head girls basketball coach, Lonnie Tvrdy, of his former counterparts of the Desert Region. "And now it's gone."

Aside from the loss of rivalries the biggest challenge facing 2A officials is the breakdown of the conference's state playoff format. If kept the same, five schools would find themselves competing for four No. 1 seeds in a 16-team playoff.

Conference officials will meet in February to deliberate over changes to the playoff system. Meyer said the new format likely would include more teams earning state tournament berths. To date, however, the region presidents have not formally discussed any plans to amend the conference playoffs.

In fact, most of the new regions do not have names yet, let alone presidents. Representatives from schools of the new Eastern-based division, which Pusch Ridge is slated to join, will meet sometime in December to elect a president, a board and even a name for the region.

2A Conference Fast-Fact: There are 41 schools in the Class 5A with enrollment higher than the combined number of students in the new 2A East Region, which Pusch Ridge Christian Academy will join in the fall of 2005.

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