After three years of power divisions, the Peninsula Athletic League has gone back to a geographic alignment for basketball this season.
I attended the Mills at Aragon boys game Friday night, the first Friday of league play. The new gym at Aragon, which seats 1,800, was about 80 percent full. A nice crowd, plenty of students and parents from both schools and a good game in which Mills came from behind to upset the preseason PAL South Division favorite 59-55.
My colleague Darren Sabedra attended an Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division game at Homestead the same night. He reported quite a contrasting atmosphere -- bleachers pulled down on only one side of the gym, and that one side of seats only half full.
Part of the problem is inherent in the power league structure. The Homestead boys played Palo Alto. The Homestead girls played Monta Vista. The Monta Vista people left after the girls game. The Palo Alto people didn't come until the boys game.
Up at Aragon, it was Mills as the opponent in four back-to-back games: frosh-soph girls and boys and then varsity girls and boys. People have more of a reason to stick around.
The logic behind power leagues is to have strong play strong in the top division. But another problem the PAL encountered was determining which team belonged in which division. In basketball, one player transferring in or transferring out of a program can make a big difference.
On Jan. 25, traditional rivals are slated to play all around the PAL South: San Mateo at Burlingame, Hillsdale at Aragon, Menlo-Atherton at Woodside, Mills at Capuchino and Sequoia at Carlmont.
Keep the fire marshals away.