That's why the PIAA needs to consider a playoff system that separates private, charter, and magnet schools from the rest of the field - and not just for basketball, either.
Let the schools without geographic boundaries, and the Public League charter and magnet schools with their wide limits, battle for their own state titles.
Let the other public schools battle for theirs.
Like schools competing against like schools.
Private schools can draw from anywhere, and some of the schools attract - some might say recruit - students from a wide swath. The Public League charter and magnet schools can draw from anywhere in Philadelphia. Most public-school teams in the PIAA are limited to students within the comparatively small areas that their districts, or the schools themselves, cover.
That's quite a trichotomy, and unfortunately, teams from all those groups are lumped together in playoff brackets.
New Jersey has it right. There, private schools compete in playoffs apart from public schools, in groups known as Non-Public.
Pennsylvania needs a similar system, one that includes separate brackets for charter and magnet schools, private schools, and more-traditional public schools.
Here's one idea: Instead of the current format, which separates schools into four classes based on schools' student populations by gender, classify each school according to the census population of the area from which it can draw students.
Private schools would go into an unlimited category. The schools that can draw from within the Philadelphia city limits - charters and magnets - can be lumped into another category. Then create a third category for the "neighborhood" or more traditional public schools.
Within each of these categories, schools can go into separate classes according to school size. For instance, the private schools might hold Class AAA playoffs for larger schools and Class AA playoffs for smaller ones.
Granted, it's a plan that's easier mentioned than accomplished. After all, Pennsylvania is a lot larger than New Jersey, and arranging statewide brackets for private schools would be especially tough.
Something, though, needs to be done, because the imbalance of the current system is clear.
Last weekend, private, charter, or magnet schools won six of the eight state championships in boys' and girls' basketball. Weeks before that, private schools won six of the eight District 1 titles. Last season, five of the eight state basketball crowns went to private or charter schools.
And in the Public League, the last time a "neighborhood" school won a league boys' hoops title was 2006, when Simon Gratz did it.
Melissa Mertz, assistant executive director of the PIAA, said that fewer than 20 percent of the organization's high school members are private schools and that the issue of separate playoffs tends to come up after basketball season. She says she understands why, pointing to the disparity between the percentage of private schools in the PIAA and the percentage of state titles (4 of 8 this year) won by private schools.
"Right now, we don't have the perfect answer to it," Mertz said. "But it's something we continue to look at."
A few years ago, when the Catholic League was joining the PIAA, the organization made private schools declare lists of feeder schools from which they could recruit.
"In essence, it was to try to draw boundaries on their recruiting area," Mertz said. "It doesn't address the charter-school issue, which is one that we will probably have to look at as we move forward."
That issue is worth a look. So, too, are separate playoffs.
Downsize the field
The best teams from the regular season should qualify for districts, and the best teams from the district brackets should advance to states.
What's wrong with the current format?
Exhibit A: In District 12, the Bishop McDevitt girls qualified for the state tournament despite a 1-18 regular-season record.
Exhibit B: The Class AAAA state brackets included two teams, Central Bucks West boys and Haverford High girls, coming off district tournaments in which they won only two of five games - and lost their last three.
McDevitt made the AA field because the Catholic League gets one of the four District 12 berths in the state bracket, McDevitt athletic director Pat Manzi said. The Catholic League has only two AA girls' teams, McDevitt and West Catholic, and McDevitt had the better record.
In Class AAAA, nine District 1 teams advance to states. Both C.B. West and Haverford went as the eighth qualifiers. Oddly, under the current format, the eighth-place finisher is the only team in each tourney that advances with a losing record in districts.
The solution: Mandate that teams have at least a .500 record to qualify for the postseason, and then shrink both the district and state brackets. That will reduce the number of playback games in District 1, and you won't see teams entering the state tournament with 2-3 district marks.
All that will make for better tournaments, and might have a residual effect: The winter season somehow might end before the spring season begins.
Contact Lou Rabito