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League Rules



We realize that our rules are lengthy, however, each rule is there for a reason.  Rather than be part of an undisciplined or disorganized League, we want coaches to embrace the benefits that come from knowing that it doesn't matter where you play in The Great Northwest,

the Rules are the same everywhere









General Administrative


Status of the League.  The League was established for the purpose of facilitating the scheduling of games between individual basketball associations and teams.  The local associations and teams maintain legal responsibility for the health and safety of all participants and spectators.

Length of Season.  The timing of when meets are scheduled at each grade level is a function of when communities are willing to host and are able to play.  The earliest date on which League meets will be scheduled during the season varies by grade/gender as follows:  October 28 for 8th and 7th grade girls; December 2 for 8th grade boys, 7th grade boys, 6th grade boys, 5th grade boys, 6th grade girls and 5th grade girls; and January 6 for 4th grade boys and girls competitive meets (4th grade competitive meets are only held in January and February).  The latest possible date on which League meets for grades eight through five, boys and girls, will be played is March 30. 

Awards.  No awards will be given at regular League meets.  However, programs that wish to offer ribbons can contact Tracie Tilton at to receive information on how to order ribbons for their meet(s). 

Fees and Hosting Credits.  The cost to play in a regular League meet will be $125.  Host teams will receive a credit of $60 for each team hosted.  Meet fees are due in November or December of each season, within 14 days after the League invoice is received with each team’s schedule.

Expulsion from the League.  The League will consider expelling a coach, a team or players on a given team if:  

the team drops or misses one or more meets without a legitimate, non-weather related excuse with less than ten days of notice (see Rule C-12);

if the team leaves a meet early for reasons other than weather, illness or injuries and without first consulting with the host's meet director (see Rule C-12);

if a coach or parent is repeatedly disruptive at games (see Rule D-12);

if a coach violates the League rule (see Rule C-2) by having players "play down" or otherwise knowingly uses an ineligible player in a League-sponsored event;

if a coach breaks the League rule against putting players from multiple communities on the same roster (see Rule C-1);

if a 6th, 5th or 4th grade coach repeatedly and intentionally violates the League rule on the use of half court zone defenses (see Rule D-10);

if a team fails to pay its meet fees, the coach of that team and sponsoring association will be suspended from League participation until all past due fees for that team have been paid (those teams that had fee payments materially past due, who eventually make full payment and are not expelled from the League, will be required to make fee payments for any subsequent seasons, in advance, when submitting their Enrollment Forms);

if a team fails to submit a roster and complete the online Participant Liability Waiver/Concussion Agreement for each rostered player (Rule C-17) as required by the League; or

if a coach is knowingly engaged in conduct detrimental to the best interests of the League. 

The League will decide whether circumstances warrant immediate expulsion.  If expulsion isn't immediate, the League will decide after a season is concluded whether or not a program or a particular team or coach will be invited to participate next season.  A local association's entire program may be dismissed from the League if it fails to pay an invoice or fails to control the attendance and/or conduct of all its players and coaches.  The League has full discretion to determine participation in League scheduled games.

Directions.  By August 31 of each season, each member association will designate the gyms at which any hosted home meets will be played, with detailed directions on how to get to each gym from all four directions.  These must include an exact street address for each venue to facilitate the use of GPS by traveling participants.

Website.  In June of each season, the League will post the following on the League's website ( 

League Enrollment Informational Posting, explaining how teams can participate in The Great Northwest;

Meet Hosting Form, which teams must submit if they want to host a meet for that season;

Team Enrollment Forms, which must be submitted by each team that wants to play in the upcoming season;

"Power Rating" chart which shows the rating level of each team that played in the League the previous season;

Rules for the upcoming season.  

In October and November of each season before meets for the upcoming season commence, the League will post the following:  directions to gymnasiums used in League meets (see Rule A-6) and a full schedule for the 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th and 4th grade boys and girls teams. 

The League emails each host the names, email addresses and phone numbers of the head coach and assistant coach for each visiting team attending that meet, with the name and number of the varsity coach and association contact where we have a listing for one or the other.  These customized lists are used by hosts to make the pre-meet contacts described in Rule C-15.

Coaches who want to get the name of another coach or two from neighboring communities for purposes of setting up a scrimmage can request the name and phone number by sending an e-mail to Tracie Tilton at

The League will generally not publicize other tournaments on the League's website.  We will do so on two conditions:  a) the event does not conflict with a Great Northwest or Wisconsin Independent Volleyball League event at that grade level and gender on the date in question; and b) the community making the request hosts Great Northwest regular-season or specialty meets or tournaments.  Posting on the League's website from outside organizations will involve a fee and will only be considered if League management feels it involves a product or service in which League coaches, players or parents may be interested.

Names, Mailing Addresses, Emails and Phone Numbers of Coaches.  Each member association must submit a complete list of names, addresses, email address and various phone numbers of all its head and assistant coaches and other association members who should receive League communications.  This information is due for each grade within 30 days after the deadline for submitting enrollment forms for that grade/gender.  These submissions from the League's various participants will be compiled into a League-wide contact database. 



Who Can Join the League.  For purposes of hosting a meet, the League will consider any community, association or team that is within a one-hour's driving distance of at least ten other members with teams at a corresponding ability level in the gender/grade level(s) in question.  Associations can field multiple teams at each grade level.  For grades eight through four, it is up to local associations whether multiple entries for a given grade are divided evenly as to ability, or are assembled on an "A", "B" and/or "C" basis.  Communities which do not have sufficient qualified members within a one hour drive, will be allowed to play in meets if space is available, but will not be allowed to host a League meet. 

Fourth grade teams will have two options for meet formatting:

Meets where participation is limited to 4th grade teams only. Fourth grade teams that can't fill their schedule with 4th grade meets (because there aren't sufficient hosts or opponents) must declare on their Team Enrollment Form whether they want to play in 5th grade meets or play fewer meets.


Fourth grade teams also have the option of starting their season by playing from mid-October to mid-December in The Great Northwest Non-Competitive division.  For more information about the 3rd and 4th grade Non-Competitive division, please see the corresponding post on the League's website (

Fourth grade competitive meets will be organized only in the months of January and February.  While the majority of regular 5th grade meets will take place in January and February, some 5th grade meets will also be scheduled in December and March.

Hosting Responsibilities.  To host a meet or meets, a community/school district must submit a Meet Hosting Form for all teams from their community or school district.

If the League has too many teams that want to host at a given grade level, whether or not a given community gets to host at a particular grade level, will be determined by the following factors:

Date by which the Meet Hosting Form is submitted – the earlier a community/ team submits their form, the greater the likelihood that the community/team gets to host, and on their preferred date.

Flexibility on hosting dates is very important.  Communities/teams that have only one available date on which they can host, and who are unwilling to trade dates with another team from the same community, reduce the likelihood that we can accommodate their hosting request.

A community's or association's overall net League fees will have an impact on our decision.  For example, assume that team "A" is part of a basketball association that is hosting at six other grade levels and will have a net refund coming from the League whether team "A" hosts or not.  Assume that team "B" is part of an association that will likely have net fees due to the League from the 2023-2024 season because it is not hosting significantly at other grade levels.  In this example, team "B" will be given preference over team "A" when determining hosting privileges.

If a community or team openly refuses to follow League Rules in managing its home meet(s), the League will consider suspending hosting privileges.  Examples include:  refusal to re-format a meet where a participant fails to show, charging a higher admission fee than League Rules provide, allowing referees to knowingly refuse to enforce game rules they may not like, etc.

If, on the other hand, sufficient hosts can't be secured by the registration deadline to accommodate all the play dates that registering teams wish to play, the number of play dates will be reduced for teams in the following order of priority:

Non-hosting teams that have signed up to play only one or two meets will have their play dates reduced first.  We do so because we want to give preferential treatment to teams that make a baseline commitment to the League (which we define to be three meets).

Spots will next be reduced for non-hosting teams that play the most meets in our League. 

When hosting, teams should thoroughly review Attachment #5 to these Rules well in advance of their home meet.  This Attachment outlines the duties each host needs to perform for a successful meet.

Level of Participation.  Teams can play as few as one meet or as many meets as there are dates with meets being hosted.  Member teams must play three or more to qualify for the League Championship Tournament and Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament.  While the season is lengthy to accommodate many different preferences regarding when to play, teams will be allowed to play in the part of the season they want and not be forced to play during a month when they want their program to be inactive.  As a result, meets won't be scheduled on the Saturdays during the season when an insufficient number of teams want to play.  Fourth grade competitive meets will be organized only in the months of January and February. 

Meet Formats.  League teams play three games at each regular League meet.  If the meet is held on one or two courts, four teams will be placed in a pool and will play each other on a round robin basis for 1st to 4th place.  If the meet is held on three courts, teams are split into two groups of three teams each, with all teams from one group playing the three teams in the opposite group.  At the conclusion of play teams are ranked from 1st to 6th place using the League's tie breaker system.

Court Usage Based on Number of Playing Surfaces Available.  The League can accommodate hosts who have anywhere between one and six (or more) courts available on their hosting date.  These are the options:

One court:  Known as a "mini-meet," the host uses one court for six time slots (each of four teams play a three-game round robin). 

Two courts:  This is the most common scenario.  With two courts, eight teams are placed into two brackets of four teams each, and all teams play a round robin within their bracket.  Bracket 1 starts play at 9:00 a.m. and Bracket 2 teams start play at 10:10 a.m. 

Three courts:  If you have access to three surfaces, you can host two six-team meets on the same date.  These two meets are generally held for two different grades/genders, but can be for the same grade/gender if enough teams are available.  These meets will have six teams, with the three teams in one group playing the three teams from the other group. 

Four courts:  If you have access to four courts when hosting, you can host two meets, generally for two different grades/genders, consistent with what is described above in the bullet labeled "Two Courts."

Five courts:  If you have five courts available, your program can host two meets consistent with the format in the section entitled "Three Courts" (see above), plus one meet described in the section entitled "Two Courts" (see above).

Six courts:  Programs with six courts available have two options:  Host four meets (generally for four different grades/genders) using the option described above entitled "Three Courts;" or host three sets of meets (again, generally for three different grades/genders) using the format from the bullet above entitled "Two Courts."

Time Between Games.  Each team will have 10 minutes to warm up before its first game of the day.  After that, at the conclusion of each game, the two teams playing the next game can access the court immediately to begin warm-ups and the clock operator will set the clock at 7 minutes and start it running.  Within 2 minutes, coaches and players from the teams playing the previous game must fully exit the bench area so that, at the 5 minute mark, both teams playing the next game will be able to have complete access to their bench.  The next game begins after the 7 minute intermission, even if that means commencing the game before its scheduled start.  In those cases where the meet is behind schedule, the clock operator will run off only 5 minutes between games and the referee will encourage the players and coaches from the previous game to exit the court immediately.

Players and coaches should not leave the building between games that are scheduled 1:10 apart so that they can be ready to play their next game if the meet is running ahead of schedule.  In those host communities where the surfaces being used for a given grade are in two different buildings, a team having its next game in the other building must go immediately to that location after its just completed game and check the status of the game timing before stopping for food or other refreshments at the concession stand.  The times listed on schedule pages represent the latest desired start times of each game.  Barring overtime, most meets actually run slightly ahead of schedule and players/coaches must be prepared for that possibility.  The meet director has the authority to begin the second or third game of the day for any team before its scheduled start time, even if one team does not have all its players in attendance – however, the first game of the day for each team will not commence before the scheduled start time unless both teams are present and willing to begin early. 

Who Plays Where?  In constructing a schedule, priority will be given to scheduling games in central locations for those teams that have the furthest to travel to play each other.  As a result, centrally-located teams will need to travel further on some dates so that those on the geographic fringes of the League don't have an impossible travel schedule.  While teams on the geographic fringe may need to travel further than those which are centrally-located, all teams will have a combination of meets that are close by and others that require more significant travel.

While "B" teams and geographically-central teams are fairly easy to schedule, the League often struggles placing teams on our geographic fringe [as well as the very strongest ("A") and weakest ("C") teams] in locations that coaches feel are manageable trips.  The League expects all teams to be able to travel up to 90 minutes on occasion, provided that their average trip is no more than 60-70 minutes (which means there are 15 or 30 minute trips mixed in).  However, "A" teams, those teams on the League's geographic fringe, and those teams that don't host and aren't part of a program that has submitted a Meet Hosting Form, will be expected to travel further on occasion, provided that the average travel time for all their meets doesn't exceed 75 minutes (again, this means that shorter trips are part of the mix).

Who Plays at What Time?  For each meet, the teams assigned to the first time slot are those in the group whose most distant team is closer to the host's location than the most distant team from the other group.  Where the two most distant teams are relatively equidistant from the meet site, the host team's group will play in the first time slot. 

When a host team is hosting two meets on four courts on a given day in the same town, instead of having half the teams from each of the two meets start at 9:00 a.m., and the other half from each of the two meets start at 10:10 a.m., the League reserves the option of having all eight teams from one meet play their first game at 9:00 a.m., and all eight teams from the other meet play their first game at 10:10 a.m. 

Who Plays Whom.  All 8th, 7th, and 6th grade League teams will be rated at one of the following five levels:  "A", "B+", "B", "B-" or "C".  A team's rating will be based on a combination of that team's performance the previous season and the community's or association's current season perspective on relative ability.  Where possible, the League will attempt to keep teams from playing in a meet where the ratings cover more than three consecutive rating slots.  For instance, "A" and "B+" teams (and occasionally "B" teams) will be scheduled to play in "A/B+" meets.  "B+", "B" and "B-" teams will be scheduled to play in "B" meets.  "B-" and "C" teams (and occasionally "B" teams) will be scheduled to play in "B-/C" meets.  The only time that "B+" teams will be scheduled with "C" teams, or "B-" teams with "A" teams, is if to do otherwise would result in some teams traveling too great a distance to play in a meet.  In those cases, the League will strive to construct one stronger group and one weaker group, so that, for example, all "B+" and all "C" or "B-" teams are in opposite groups.  "A" teams will never knowingly be scheduled to play in a meet with "C" teams.  Since 4th and 5th grade teams do not have ratings from the previous season, 4th and 5th grade meets are "open scheduled" rather than being seeded. 

Tie Breakers.  There are two separate tie breaker procedures:  1) for meets with four teams in each bracket, where all teams played each other, and 2) for five, six and seven team meets, where poolmates involved in the tie did not all play each other.  These are the same tie breaker rules that are employed at the Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournaments.

While both these tie breaker methods apply the same general principles, there are some significant differences in their application.  First, we'll define some terminology common to both approaches:

"Overall record" or "overall pool record" – this is the final win/loss record of a team after pool play is completed.

"Head-to-head" competition – this is the result of the game(s) between one or more teams.  In four team meets, there is a certainty that all teams being compared played each other in pool play.  In five, six and seven team meets, some of the teams involved in a tie may have played each other, while others haven't.

"Net tie breaker points" – each team earns (or loses) points based on how they fared in each game against each opponent.  A team losing a game by 7 will receive a -7 score.  A team winning a game by 11 points will receive a +11 score.  All plus and minus points will be capped at 15 so that no team has an incentive to run up the score (past 15 points) on a weaker team.

"Fewest defensive points" – this is the total number of points scored by opposing teams in all games.

"Most points scored" – this is the total number of points scored by a team in all games.

In the rare occasion when a team does not play one of its scheduled pool games, a forfeit is recorded with the forfeiting team losing by a score of 15-0 for tie breaker purposes, unless the forfeiting team starts a game but walks out before it is completed, in which case the score will be recorded as the actual score once play was suspended.  (If the team that walks out is winning the game in question, a loss will be recorded for the team that walked out by a score of 15-0.)

Tie breaker procedures for meets in which all poolmates play each other (four-team brackets).  After pool play is completed, the teams being ranked are seeded using the following five criteria, in this order:

Overall pool record.

Where two teams tie that have an identical pool record, the winner of the head-to-head match-up wins the tie breaker.

Where three teams tie, the team with the most net tie breaker points gets the top seed.  After taking out the top seed, only two teams remain tied by pool record, the team that won the head-to-head matchup between those two teams will get the higher remaining seed.If after applying all the above criteria, the top three teams are still tied, because they have the same number of net tie breaker points, go to criterion 4.

Fewest defensive points given up in all games.

Most points scored in all games.

For an illustration of how the four-team tie breaker rule works, see the results in Rule C-9, Option 1 (page 14). 

In Bracket 2, the rankings are fairly straightforward, because all four teams have different win/loss records.  However, note that even though Detroit (+11) has more points than Miami (+4), Miami finishes second because it has a 2-1 record and Detroit finishes third because it was only 1-2.  In other words, as noted above, the record within the group takes precedence over any other aspect of the tie breaker rule. 

In Bracket 1, Los Angeles takes first place based on their 3-0 pool record.  With three teams tied with 1-2 records, Houston finishes second, because it has the highest total net tie breaker points (-8).  Between New York and Chicago, New York is awarded third place because, even though New York had fewer tie breaker points than Chicago (-21 v. -12), New York defeated Chicago in head-to-head competition.

Tie breaker procedures for meets where teams did not necessarily play all other teams (five, six or seven team meets).  After play is completed, the teams being ranked are seeded using the following seven criteria, in this order:

Overall record.

Where two teams that played head-to-head have an identical play record, the winner of the head-to-head match-up wins the tie breaker.

Where three teams tie, and one of the teams defeated the other two, that victorious team wins the tie breaker (if the two remaining teams played each other, go back to criterion #2, otherwise proceed to criterion #5).

Where three teams tie and one of the teams defeated the other two, that victorious team gets the highest seed of the three teams involved in the tie.If the two remaining teams played each other in pool play, go back to #2, otherwise proceed to #5.

Where three teams tie and one of the teams lost to the other two, that losing team gets the lowest seed of the three teams involved in the tie (if the two remaining teams played each other in pool play, go back to #2, otherwise proceed to #5).

Where two teams tie that did not play each other, or where three or more teams tie where one team did not defeat all the other teams involved in the tie, the next tie breaker is highest net tie breaker points. f after identifying the tie breaker winner, the remaining teams that are still tied by pool record did not play each other, continue to use the highest net tie breaker points. However, if the remaining teams that are still tied by pool record did play each other, go back to #2.If teams are also tied by net tie breaker points, proceed to #6.

If still tied, the next tie breaker is fewest defensive points given up to opposing teams in all games.

If still tied, the next tie breaker is most points scored (most offensive) in all games.

For an illustration of how the five, six or seven team tie breaker works, see Rule C-9, Option 2 (page 14).  Note that if a meet has only seven teams, it has been reformatted whereas a six team meet can be a regularly-scheduled three game meet, or a reformatted meet.  Option 2 shows a regularly-scheduled six team meet.  With a 3-0 record, Atlanta takes first place.  Edmonton takes second place with a 2-1 record.  There are now four teams tied with a 1-2 record.  Since there are four teams in this tie, none of them could have lost or won against the other teams, so the first team to take out of the 4-way tie is Denver with the highest tie-breaker points of +8; Denver takes third place.  There are now three teams tied at 1-2, we again look at whether any of these lost or won against the other two.  This did not happen, so the team with the next highest tie-breaker points, Baltimore (-1) takes fourth place.  There are now two teams tied at 1-2 - - in a two-way tie, point differential is not considered and we look at head-to-head competition - - Cleveland defeated Fargo, so Cleveland finishes 5th and Fargo finishes 6th.  Because there are only two teams that remain in the tie, the fact that Cleveland has -16 tie-breaker points and Fargo has only -12 tie-breaker points is not relevant; once the tie is down to two teams, head-to-head is always the deciding factor. 

The biggest challenge we hear to the tie-breaker procedure (usually from parents) is that in a three-way tie, we should use the tie-breaker points to decide the places for all three teams, as we did years ago.  However, the majority of veteran coaches agree that head-to-head competition is the best way of deciding “places.”  Since head-to-head competition obviously cannot be used to break a three-way tie, we must have a procedure in place to break the three-way tie, then we always return to head-to-head competition, with which team gets the second highest and third highest place determined by head-to-head results (not net tie breaker points).

League Championship Tournament.  Each season the League will run a 32-team League Championship Tournament ("LCT") for 8th, 7th, and 6th grade boys and girls teams (one for each of these six grades), with each team playing six or seven games over the course of a two-day weekend.  To be included in the Top 32 rankings at each grade level, teams must have played in:  a) three League meets during the 2022-2023 season (and have registered to play in at least three meets in 2023-2024); or b) two A/B+ meets during the 2022-2023 season, with a commitment to play in three total meets during 2023-2024.  Invitees to the LCT will be the top 32 ranked teams from the previous season's power ratings chart, whose programs re-enroll in the League to play three or more meets for the upcoming season.  Teams ranked #33, #34, etc., will be invited if any of the higher rated teams decline or fail to re-enroll their programs in The Great Northwest for the upcoming season. 

This season's League Championship Tournament dates are as follows:

8th Grade Boys – January 6 & 7, 2024 - host Onalaska Royals

7th Grade Boys – January 6 & 7, 2024 - co-hosts Eau Claire Eagles & Fall Creek

6th Grade Boys – January 13 & 14, 2024 - host Menomonie

8th Grade Girls – November 11 & 12, 2023 - host La Crosse Central

7th Grade Girls – December 16 & 17, 2023 - co-hosts New Richmond & Spring Valley

6th Grade Girls – December 2 & 3, 2023 - host  Altoona

Teams that fail to play in this season's LCT, and offer no legitimate excuse for doing so, will not be included in this season's year-end ranking of top 32 teams at that grade level for purposes of the 2024-2025 League Championship Tournament.


Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament.  In 2001, the League helped create the first annual Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament (WSICT).  The League will again organize the WSICT in the spring of 2024.  The dates and locations for all eight WSICT's are as follows:

     8th Grade Boys – March 23 & 24, 2024 – co-hosts Stevens Point and Merrill

7th Grade Boys – March 23 & 24, 2024 – host La Crosse

6th Grade Boys – March 23 & 24, 2024 – co-hosts Ashwaubenon, De Pere and Wrightstown

5th Grade Boys – March 23 & 24, 2024 – host Kimberly

8th Grade Girls – April 6 & 7, 2024 – host Stevens Point

7th Grade Girls – April 6 & 7, 2024 – host D. C. Everest

6th Grade Girls – Division 1 and 3 February 10 & 11, 2024 – host Manitowoc

                             Division 2 and 4/5 February 17 & 18, 2024 – host Merrill

5th Grade Girls – February 17 & 18, 2024 – co-hosts Little Chute and Neenah


The 2024 WSICT will have a 60-80 team field for each grade/gender (depending on gym capacity of the host communities), with separate fields for WIAA Division 1, 2 and 3 teams; Division 4 and Division 5 will play in a combined field.  The WSICT will not be open to our Minnesota members, who have their own State Tournament in early March. 

The League helps organize this tournament to provide our top Wisconsin-based teams the ability to play the top teams from communities their size from across the State of Wisconsin.  Approximately 25-30% of the WSICT field comes from Great Northwest League membership, with the remaining teams selected from the best teams in other regions of the state.  The Great Northwest invests many hours working with other traveling leagues around the state, and major tournament directors, in identifying and recruiting top teams from outside our League, the cost of which is covered by the WSICT entry fee.

Invitations are extended to League teams that are the highest ranked teams in the League's annual power rating at their community size.  The top five or six League members in each of the four Divisions are guaranteed a spot, and highly-ranked teams just below that level are invited to apply subject to space availability.  For Division 1 teams, typically an "A" or high "B+" rating is necessary to make the field.  Division 2 teams making the field are typically "A" teams or higher level "B+" squads.  For Division 3, an "A" or "B+" rating is required.  Occasionally, at the Division 4/5 level, a high "B" rating is sufficient, but most of these teams also have a "B+" or better rating.

To be eligible for the 2024 WSICT, programs in the area covered by the League must be League members, with individual teams playing in at least three League meets during the 2023-2024 season (this number includes the League Championship Tournament).  League and any non-League competition must be at the "A/B+" level so that the team can validate that it is strong enough to compete effectively in the WSICT.

Preferential treatment for the 2024 WSICT will also be given to teams that were invited to, attended and performed well at, the 2023-2024 League Championship Tournament.

Programs residing inside League boundaries, but who fail to participate in The Great Northwest, will not be included in this field.

Meet Organizational Issues

Roster Options.  Each team will be allowed to carry as many players on its roster as it wants.  Teams with more than 12 players on their roster are encouraged to rotate the players they actually bring to each meet so that there aren't so many players on the bench, which will work to decrease the number of mass substitutions and shorten the overall length of games.  Conversely, teams are expected to have sufficiently large rosters, or have access to players at a younger grade level who can be moved up when needed, so that one or two injuries or illnesses do not cause them to cancel attendance at a meet.  This will not be considered a legitimate, non-weather related excuse within the meaning of Rule A-5.  

Girls will not be allowed to play in League meets for boys.  Likewise, boys are not allowed to play in League meets for girls.

All players must be from the same school district or same community, except where: 

A player attends a public school in another community under the state's open enrollment law, or a private school in his/her community of residence or another community, in which case the player in question will have the option of playing for either his/her school's team or playing for the community's team – but not both.  An example: a player living in Mosinee, but attending school at Newman Catholic (Wausau), can play for Mosinee or Newman Catholic, not both.  For purposes of this exception, home-schooled children can play either for the team from the school district in which they reside, or for the team associated with the school or community where they are allowed to play school sports or participate in other extracurricular activities, but not for both.

However, no player attending public school, and living and going to school in the same community, can play on two unaffiliated teams during the same season.  Some examples: a 7th grader from the territory covered by Eau Claire North High School can play on that team's "Blue" team (or "A" team) one week and on its "Red" team (or "B" team) another week, and "up" on the 8th grade team another week – these teams are all "affiliated."  But that same player cannot play on a different weekend for another Eau Claire team that is not associated with the 7th and 8th grade teams described above.

If a player living in School District A applies, for the upcoming semester, to attend school in School District B (either because the player is in the process of moving or is open enrolling), or to attend a specific private school, once that player is accepted in writing at the second school (i.e., either School District B or the private school), that player has the option to play for either the community where he/she is currently living (School District A) or the team associated with the school to which he/she will be attending the next semester (School District B or the private school in question).  Where an application process is required (i.e., open enrollment situation and private school application process), acceptance by the new school must be in writing – it's not sufficient that an application has been made or that the player's parents have been informed orally that their son/daughter "will" or "probably will" be admitted at some point in the future.

Two neighboring or contiguous Wisconsin Division 4 or 5 (Minnesota A) communities – or one Wisconsin Division 3 (Minnesota AA) and one Wisconsin Division 4 or 5 (Minnesota A) community – can combine their players if both communities otherwise would not have enough players to field a team at that grade level.  No Division 1 or 2 (Minnesota AAAA or AAA) community can field a team in the League with players from another community, nor can two Division 3 (Minnesota AA) communities put forward a combined team.  Teams that decide to use this rule exception must notify the League that they are doing so and include both community names in the team name (e.g., Mondovi-Gilmanton).  Where combining is allowed, all players from the grade and gender in question in both school districts must be given the opportunity to play on any combined team (it can't be only the best players from one or both communities, or a hand-picked team).  That means sending a note home from school to every student of that grade and gender in both communities (or some other effective form of written communication), so no one is precluded from participation.

No teams from communities with two or more public high schools will be allowed to construct multiple district rosters.  Communities with two or more public high schools cannot field teams that draw players from territory that covers more than one of those high schools.  If one middle school feeds two different high schools, those players living in the territory covered by High School A can play for A's feeder team; likewise, those players living in the territory covered by High School B can play on B's feeder team.  Also, the students attending that junior high school can play together as a team.

Certain children of teachers who are paid to teach and be the head varsity basketball coach in a district in which they do not live.  For example, in the case of a head varsity coach who lives in District A, but is paid to teach and be the head coach of District B's girls varsity basketball team, that coach's daughters (not sons) can play on a team representing either District A or B during the 2023-2024 season, but cannot play for both.  The same is true of a boys varsity coach's son.  The rationale for this rule exception is that the child in question will very likely play for their parent once they get to high school and should be allowed to play with their prospective high school teammates while younger.

Also, a middle school basketball coach, who lives in District A, but is paid by District B to teach in their schools and/or coach a middle school basketball team, will be allowed to have his/her son or daughter (as long as his/her son/daughter is the same gender and in the same grade as the grade the parent is coaching) play in Saturday League meets, in limited situations, for the team representing District B.  For that to be allowed, both of the following conditions must be met: 

The teacher/coach must receive "significant" compensation to coach this specific team, over and above their teacher's salary.  Significant means "not nominal" (i.e., $25 per season would be "nominal"); it must be consistent with what is paid by neighboring districts to its paid teacher coaches.

The player in question is not playing "up" solely for the purpose of playing for his/her parent.  In other words, a 5th or 6th grader living in District A cannot play on District B's 7th grade team coached by his/her parent, even if all the other conditions above are met. 

The rationale for this latter middle school coach exception to the general rule against players from multiple districts playing on the same team, is to allow coaches who are contractually-obligated to coach another team of the same age as his/her son or daughter, the opportunity to spend quality time with his/her child on weekends. 

The objective of this rule as detailed in the various bullets above, is to have League teams that are community-based, and not regional or metropolitan area all-star teams. 

Playing Up or Playing Down.  Players in 7th grade and below will be allowed to play "up" one or more grade levels (in the case of 6th, 5th or 4th graders).  However, no player, at any grade level, will be allowed to play "down" to a younger grade level.  That means that no 6th grade students will be allowed to play on a 5th grade team, no 7th grade students will be allowed to play on a 6th grade team, etc.  If a community doesn't have sufficient players at a given grade level, these players must play "up" to the next grade level.  If they are 8th graders, they will either need to have some of their 7th graders play "up" on an 8th grade team, at least for some meets, to accommodate their 8th graders, or if they are from a small community, they can play with a neighboring small community as outlined in Rule C-1, bullet one.

Uniform Colors and Numbers.  Jerseys must have numbers on both the back and front of the jersey.

It is permissible to have a number on a jersey with a digit greater than 5.  (As a side note, the NFHS and NCAA explain that the reason for basketball jerseys having digits of 5 or lower is so that the referee can easily signal a call with one hand and be understood by the score table.  For example, the number 6 would have to be called with five fingers and one finger, which could also be interpreted as 51.)  It is not permissible to have more than one player wear the same jersey number. 

Teams that wear jerseys which are not reversible must bring an alternate numbered jersey, T-shirt or a transparent mesh vest of a different color that allows the referee to see the number of each player.

When both teams want to wear the same color in a given game, the referees will conduct a coin flip as far in advance of tip-off as possible.  If the team losing the coin flip does not have an alternate jersey, but the team that won the coin flip does, the latter team will be required to put on their alternate jersey, with the team that lost the flip assessed a bench technical.  The team that switches jerseys then will start the game by shooting two free throws and getting the ball out of bounds (i.e., there will be no opening game tip-off). 

Referees.  There will be two referees officiating each game.  Each host community will secure the best referees possible.  The ideal official is mature, certified and experienced.  Part of being mature includes having cordial interaction with the players and a non-confrontational approach relative to coaches (take command, but no "my way or the highway" attitudes).  At the League Championship Tournaments, all referees must be certified, as well as mature and experienced.  While WIAA-certified (or the Minnesota equivalent) referees are always preferred in regular (non-LCT) meets as well, it is understood that some communities will not be able to produce two such referees for each game in a regular meet.  Where sufficient certified referees are not available, host communities will, to the greatest extent possible, secure adults with prior referee and/or coaching experience.  Host communities must balance their two-person crews.  If experienced, mature, certified officials are scarce, do not have two work together, but rather pair each with a less experienced referee.  Under no circumstances are two inexperienced, non-certified referees allowed to work a game together.  Referees must wear striped shirts or striped vests.  Referees are allowed to wear shorts, but are not allowed to wear baseball caps or other headwear.  Coaches can insist that such headgear be removed before a game proceeds by talking to the meet director.

The strongest officiating crews should work those games in which the host team plays.  The reason for that is the issue of impartiality.  Referees must be able to make calls against the host team without being concerned that they may be criticized by the hometown fans who they may see on a daily basis, but also to not overcompensate in an effort to appear impartial by giving the visiting team the benefit of the doubt on all close calls.

Host communities which are the subject of repeat (more than one) complaints about referees that don't meet the standards outlined in this paragraph, will receive a warning.  Continued violation of this section of the Rules will result in future restrictions in the ability to host meets.

All referees must read Attachment #6 to these Rules, entitled "Summary of Rules for Referees Officiating Great Northwest Basketball League Meets."  This summary cross-references specific paragraphs of the full Rules that the referees may need to consult for more detailed information.  A copy of Attachment #6 should be provided to each referee well in advance of each meet, but a copy should also be available at the scorer's table as a reference tool on game day.  They should also be given the full text of Sections C and D of the Rules so they can read in more detail about those issues mentioned in Attachment #6 on which they may want clarification.

Admission.  Each host community is allowed to charge admission for entrance to each meet, but is not required to do so.  If a host community decides to charge an admission fee, these are the options:

Admission cannot be more than $6 for an adult and $2 for a student (high school or under).  There is one exception to this. 

If the host community uses ALL ("all" means every referee for the entire meet, not most, some or a majority) "mature, experienced, certified" officials, it is allowed to charge up to $8 for an adult and $3 for a student. 

At the League Championship Tournament, hosts are allowed to charge $12 per adult for a two-day pass, $8 per adult for a one-day pass and $3 per student for a two-day pass. 

All proceeds from admissions at a given meet are retained by the host community. 

If a team charges the higher admission fees (8 dollars per adult and 3 dollars per child) at a regular meet, and does not use exclusively "mature, experienced, certified" officials, visiting teams are encouraged to file a complaint form.  If the League determines that the officials were not all "mature, experienced and certified", the host will be assessed a 30% reduction in its hosting credit for each team hosted, with the assessment per team credited to each visiting team to reimburse them for the extent to which their parents, fans, etc., were overcharged. 

If a host community decides to charge admission, it must use some form of ink stamp to designate who has already paid.  Since most attendees will leave the gym area from time to time during the meet, this will avoid disagreements about who has and hasn't paid.  All players, and up to two coaches per team, will be admitted without paying an admission fee.

Practice Balls.  Each team participating in a meet must bring their own warm up balls.

Game BallsThe host team will provide two quality game balls at each court.  Game balls must be an official women's (28.5") leather ball of the best quality possible, properly inflated, for all girls games and for 6th, 5th and 4th grade boys games; game balls for 7th and 8th grade boys games must be an official men's (30.0") leather ball of the best quality possible, properly inflated.

Clock Operator and Official Scorer.  Each host team must provide a clock operator for each game whose sole job it will be to start and stop the clock at the appropriate time and change the possession arrow.  Each host team will also provide an official scorer whose sole job it will be to record team scores and personal fouls.  While it is acceptable to use responsible high school students for this purpose, the individuals working the clock and score book must be instructed that their jobs are as important as that of the referees and their duties must receive their undivided attention.  Any cell phones (or other device that can be used to access the internet, listen to music or gaming) at the scorer's table must be turned off during the entire game, except during half-time breaks and between games.  Allowing clock operators and scorekeepers to make phone calls, text, etc., during games will be considered a serious dereliction of hosting responsibilities and will affect a community's future ability to host League meets.

No people other than the clock operator and official scorer will be allowed to sit at or near the scorer's table during the game.  Hosts will instruct both individuals at the scorer's table that they cannot engage in any activity which would suggest that they are in any way partial to one team or the other.  A coach has the right to insist that an individual be removed from the scorer's table if such conduct exists.  That right is not limited to games in which the home team is playing.  See Attachment #7 for a checklist of responsibilities which each clock operator and scorekeeper should review and comprehend prior to working a Great Northwest basketball meet.

Meet Results Summary.  Each host team will prepare a summary of the game time, participants, locations and results of each game.  This summary will be conspicuously displayed at each gym location on poster board large enough to be easily read from a distance (i.e., significantly bigger than 8½" x 11").  Where the two gyms being used at a given meet are in two different buildings, a summary must be posted at each.  Where the two gyms being used are in the same building, two summaries must be used in those situations where posting only one summary would make it substantially more inconvenient for attendees in one gym to view the results than in the other.  The summary must be formatted identical to the schedule posted on the League's website.  See Rule B-10 to see how tie breaker points are calculated.  Some examples are shown below:

Option 1 shows the meet results summary for a typical (fictitious) three-game eight-team meet.  Sample team names and scores are listed to show how the summary would look at the end of the third game. 

Option 2 shows the meet results summary for a reformatted (fictitious) six team meet. 


Option 1 – Eight Team Meet
Los Angeles 7th Grade Girls Basketball Meet

Meet Director: George Washington


Bracket 1 Standings










Los Angeles








New York

























Bracket 2 Standings













































Court 1

Los Angeles  31


New York  19

Court 2

Chicago  24


Houston  21


Court 1

Miami  29


Detroit  28

Court 2

Phoenix  41


Seattle  15


Court 1

Los Angeles  43


Houston  19

Court 2

New York  36


Chicago  35


Court 1

Miami  25


Phoenix  37

Court 2

Detroit  29


Seattle  11


Court 1

Los Angeles  39


Chicago  25

Court 2

Houston  52


New York  42


Court 1

Miami  51


Seattle  10

Court 2

Detroit  28


Phoenix  31



Option 2 – Six Team Meet


Atlanta 8th Grade Boys Basketball Meet Meet Director: Ben Franklin



























































Concessions.  All host teams will run a concession stand for the convenience of the players and spectators, as well as a means to generate income for the host team's basketball program.  All costs associated with the running of the concession stand are borne by the host community; likewise all proceeds will be retained by the host community.  If, for any reason, a community cannot run a concession stand because of local rules associated with that facility, it must notify all participants in the meet they are hosting at least 72 hours in advance, so each team can make its own food and beverage arrangements. 
Since most attendees will not be able to leave the building to eat meals, it's important to offer for sale something other than soft drinks, candy and chips.  Milk, juice, fresh vegetable trays, fresh fruit and several nutritious sandwich or other meal choices should also be made available.  Pizza, walking tacos, sub sandwiches and sloppy joes are also popular choices.


All visiting teams are strongly encouraged to frequent the concession stands of its hosts in an effort to support the host's youth basketball program.  If a host offers a poor selection of food and drink, teams can leave the building to get what they feel they need, consume those items off-premises, and then submit a complaint form to the League regarding the adequacy of concessions (see Attachment #1).  Teams arriving with coolers filled with food and drink to be consumed between games should likewise be reported by the host team on the complaint form.  Teams that bring in food and drink to a meet (other than liquids consumed by team members during games) on a repeated basis will be disciplined with sanctions ranging from loss of hosting privileges to not inviting that team back to play next season.

Weather-Related Cancellations and Re-formatting of Meets for Other Reasons.  Since most meets will be held during a time of the year when inclement weather is a distinct possibility, host teams must have one or more of its coaches/contacts available the night before the meet and early the morning of the meet for phone contact by other coaches.  In most cases, meets should not be canceled, nor should traveling teams indicate an unwillingness to travel, prior to 8:00 p.m. the night before the meet.  Attendance should be based on actual weather conditions, not on a forecast.  If poor road conditions exist in and around the host community the night before the meet, the meet host should contact all meet participants by telephone to discuss whether the meet host is going to cancel the meet or if the meet host doesn't cancel, whether visiting teams intend to make the trip.  Where appropriate, contact must also be made early the next morning for the same purposes. 

Every season, someone ends up unhappy relative to financial considerations when a meet is cancelled.  Visiting teams want fees waived, but hosts want to keep their hosting credits - - we can't do both - - it's one or the other.  As a result, in the case of inclement weather, where a meet ends up being cancelled or re-formatted because some teams don't come, the financial issues will be resolved as follows (no discretion, no negotiation and no debate):

  • If the host cancels the meet, even though three or more visiting teams were willing to attend, the host gets no hosting credit and all teams scheduled to play in that meet owe no meet fees for that meet.
  • If the host is forced to cancel the meet because fewer than four teams plan to attend (the home team, plus three visiting teams), the teams who were unwilling to attend must pay their full $125 meet fee; the teams that were willing to attend are not required to pay their $125 meet fee; and the host team gets a pro-rated credit (e.g., if five of the other seven teams are assessed a full $125 fee for not coming, the host will get a $60 hosting credit for those five teams, but not for the other two who are not required to pay their meet fees for that event).

A meet will be held so long as at least four teams are willing to participate.  If only three teams are available to play in a mini-meet, those teams will play each other in a round-robin for two games each.  If seven, six or five teams are in attendance, please see Attachment #4 for directions on how to re-format the pairings.

If fewer than four teams are able to attend a given meet because of inclement weather, the meet will be canceled and not re-scheduled.  While this paragraph focuses on meets that have fewer than eight teams because of weather considerations, the same re-formatting options will be used where a team fails to show up at a meet because of a non-weather related excuse - - or no excuse at all.  While such teams are subject to sanctions (see Rule A-5), and while substitute teams may be approached from the waiting list if there is advance notice of a no show, all meets will be held and will be reformatted as necessary so long as at least four teams are in attendance. 

Non-Weather Related Cancellations.  Teams that make schedule changes after the League schedule has been circulated, will be charged as follows:

  • Teams that drop a meet with at least ten days notice will be required to pay 50% of the cost of that meet if they indicated on their enrollment form that they were available to play on that date. 
  • To the extent the League schedules a team in meets exceeding the distance guidelines outlined in Rule B-7, that team will be allowed to make more than one schedule change with more than ten days notice, free of charge, to get the team below the maximum and average distances traveled cited.  Also, when the League sends out schedules, if the League made a mistake and scheduled a team on a date they said they couldn't play, the League will make this schedule change with no charge.
  • Teams providing less than ten days of notice will be required to pay the full cost of that meet.
  • Teams providing less than 48 hours notice, or no notice at all, unless for weather or serious health-related reasons, risk immediate expulsion from the League as provided for in Rule A-5.
  • Teams that leave a meet early for reasons other than legitimate concerns about inclement weather, or a lack of players due to illness or injury, risk expulsion from the League per Rule A-5.  For such an early departure to be "excused," the departing team coach must first meet with the host's meet director and persuade them that the reason(s) for their early departure is legitimate.

In other words, there are no "free" drops unless the League has made a mistake.  Teams that intentionally and repeatedly wait until ten days in advance of a meet to drop that meet because the penalty is as high as if they had provided the League more notice, will be considered for expulsion per Rule A-5g, as will a team that repeatedly drops meets.

Meet Director.  All host teams must have a meet director listed on the meet results summary placards posted in each building; or two meet directors if playing surfaces in two different buildings are being used.  The meet director must have a thorough working knowledge of all League rules and the authority to act on complaints and rules interpretations.  (See Attachment #5 for a checklist of duties that must be performed by the meet director or the host association in order to put on a successful meet.)

Reporting Meet Results.  Each host team must report the exact score of each game played at its meet to Tracie Tilton no later than 10:00 a.m. on the Monday after the previous Saturday’s meet.  Teams failing to meet the 10:00 a.m. Monday deadline will be assessed a penalty against their hosting credit of $10 for each day that they are late, up to a maximum of the hosting credit for that meet.

Scores must be reported in the order listed on the schedule page.  The best way to report scores is to insert the scores after each team on the League-provided schedule page.  Options for submitting scores are as follows (in order of League preference, any option is acceptable):

  • Scan and email:   Teams can also email a photo of the scoring summary.
  • Fax:  715-749-4198
  • Call:  715-749-9048 and leave a voice mail message.  Those calling in scores have two minutes of space per call to report, so speak quickly, but clearly.  Those reporting should leave a phone number at which they can be reached on Monday during business hours if Tracie has a follow-up question (those reporting should take scores with them to work Monday morning so they can clarify any issues).

Pre-Meet Confirmation Contacts.  It is the responsibility of each host team to contact the coaches for all teams attending the host's meet not more than ten days, and not less than five days, in advance to verify the attendance of the visiting teams and the start time of each team's first game.  The League will provide each host with a list of contacts from the teams attending its upcoming meet about ten days in advance of the event (the Wednesday or Thursday 9 to 10 days before the meet) as described in Rule A-8 of these rules.  If a visiting team is not planning to attend a given meet, the host will immediately notify Tracie Tilton (715-749-9048 / so a replacement can be arranged.  Host teams that fail to make these confirmations on a timely basis and have a scheduled visiting team not attend its meet, will have its hosting credit reduced by $100.  When calling, texting or emailing, the host team should provide each visiting team coach with the name and number of someone in the host community to call in case of weather issues on Friday night or Saturday morning.

When contacting attendees to their meet, hosts must not rely on simply leaving a voice mail, text or email message as an effective means of confirmation.  Hosts must actually receive a specific acknowledgement from a person responsible for confirming attendance.  If a host has a difficult time reaching a head coach for a team scheduled to attend their meet, consult the customized contact list provided to you as described above and call the team's assistant coach, varsity coach or association contact to ask for their assistance in obtaining that team's confirmation.  If that fails as well, call Tracie Tilton at 715-749-9048 and ask for her assistance.

Complaints/Suggestions.  Coaches at a meet with complaints about referees, concessions, player/coach conduct, etc., should first voice these to the meet director or the coach of the host team.  If the problem persists and satisfaction is not achieved by the complaining party, a written complaint should be filed with the League, using the prescribed form in Attachment #1 to these rules.  This form can also be used to make suggestions about how to improve League play.  The League will only accept complaint forms (or letters) from one of the team's coaches; complaints from parents, players or other non-coaching individuals will not be acknowledged or processed. 

Rosters, Liability Waivers and Concussion Agreements.  All teams in a given grade level must submit rosters and completed waiver/concussion forms two weeks before their first play date or absolutely no later than the deadlines listed in the third bullet below.  All teams must submit the following information. 

  • A roster for your team.  Rosters can be submitted on the "roster form" posted on the website (or a word-processed document with all of the information) and must contain each player's first and last name, jersey number, home address, school and grade during the 2023-2024 school year.  Updates to this list can be submitted via email throughout the season as needed by providing the names of new players, delete names of players no longer on the team, changes in jersey numbers, changes in addresses, etc.  Rosters can be returned via regular mail (GNBL, P O Box 506, Hudson, WI 54016), by email to or by fax to 715-796-2872.
  • A "Consent for Medical Treatment and Voluntary Release, Acknowledgement and Acceptance of Risks Indemnity Agreement" (hereafter "Liability Waiver/Concussion Agreement").  The Liability Waiver, the "Parent and Athlete Concussion Law Agreement" and the coach’s Concussion Agreement are combined into one document to simplify the paperwork for coaches and associations.  The Liability Waiver/Concussion Agreement provides legal protection to you as a coach, your school and your referees, not just those parties organizing the League.  We strongly urge you to take this process seriously. 

To submit Liability Waiver/Concussion forms online, for each player on the team have the parent/legal guardian visit our website at, then click on "Waiver/Concussion Info" in the top menu bar.  From there they can follow the online instructions.  Parents (guardians) must complete this process once each season (even if they filled it out last season, we need a new waiver submitted for the 2022-2023 season).  If you have questions during the process, please contact Jen Myer at

Rosters and Liability Waiver/Concussion forms must be submitted two weeks before the first date your team plays and absolutely no later than the following deadlines for each grade level:

  • 8th Grade Girls  and  7th grade Girls – Deadline:  November 1
  • 6th Grade Girls  and  6th Grade Boys – Deadline:  December 1
  • 8th Grade Boys, 7th Grade Boys, 5th & 4th Grade Boys and 5th & 4th Grade Girls – Deadline:  January 6
  • 3rd and 4th Grade Boys and Girls teams participating in the Non-Competitive League in October, November and December, will have a deadline of November 1

All information submitted for each team or player are kept in the League’s office – not circulated to meet hosts – please do not turn them in to anyone at the host community.  If you have questions, please contact Jen Myer, who is handling roster, Liability Waiver/Concussion Agreements, at  Failure to comply with these rules by not returning completed rosters or failing to complete online submission of Liability Waivers/Concussion Agreements could result in the loss of meets this year or exclusion from League play next season.  Liability Waivers/Concussion Agreements must be submitted each season for each player and each coach. 

Re-formatting Meets When Teams Fail to Show Up with No Prior Warning.  While the League has stringent penalties for dealing with no-shows (see Rules A-5 and C-12), and with pre-meet contact of visiting teams (see Rule C-15) acting as a safety net to prevent most no-shows, at one or two meets per year, a participant team fails to show with insufficient or no notice.  While this may be a relatively remote occurrence, it can make for a very unpleasant day if not handled correctly.  When this happens, it is not an option to have the missed games be forfeits, meaning that three teams lose a game and have to sit around for a long time between games.  If the host, or the League, has notice of a no-show before Saturday morning, the League will assist the host in re-formatting the meet.  If the host receives a phone call Saturday morning that a specific team will not be in attendance, the host needs to re-format the meet immediately to keep the meet as much on time as possible.  When a specific team fails to show up unannounced on the morning of the meet, hosts are required to take up to one full hour (if needed), delay the start of their meet if necessary, give the tardy team a chance to show up, but, in the meantime, re-format their meet as described in Attachment #4.  Hosts must familiarize themselves with these re-formatting procedures in advance of their meet so the options are understood if they need to be utilized.  While Attachment #4 addresses the most likely re-formatting if one team fails to show, it also addresses how to re-format in the unlikely event of two or three teams failing to show (these will almost always be limited to weather-related concerns).  Hosts may contact Terri Green on Saturday mornings for assistance at 715-386-4317.

On a few occasions in the past several years, hosts have unilaterally decided not to re-format because it was "too difficult".  That is not an option.  If a host fails to reformat as prescribed by League Rules, the host will have a choice:  either forfeit its entire hosting credit for that meet (usually $360 or $480) or be banned from hosting in future years for the remainder of that team's participation in The Great Northwest.  If it's an 8th grade team, there will be no option:  the hosting credit will be forfeited.

Three Point Arc.  If a host is using a playing surface without a permanent 3-point arc line, the host must put down tape showing where the line should be.  The tape need not be in a solid line; the line may be dotted.  As the tape gets torn up during the course of the meet, the host must replace that tape.

Center and Side Lines.  Some gymnasiums, when divided for cross-court play, do not have well-marked center lines.  Where the center line is not obvious, the host must lay a solid piece of tape across each such court, so the center line is obvious for purposes of assisting the referees in making the over and back, and 10 second, calls.

Likewise, when some gymnasiums are divided for cross-court play, player benches are positioned so that the legs of chairs, players and coaches extend over the side court line.  In these cases, for safety reasons, the benches should either be moved end court, or a modified sideline must be laid with a solid piece of tape in front of the benches so that no part of the benches or coaches'/players' legs extend on to the court of play.

In both cases (center line and sideline), as the tape gets worn during the course of the day, the host must replace the tape.


Game Rules

WIAA Rules.  Except as specified below, WIAA high school game rules (not WIAA middle school game rules) will be followed.  A copy of such rules can be obtained from your boys' or girls' varsity coach or by contacting the National Federation of State High School Associations (, then click on "Basketball.") 

Length of Game Periods.  Each game will consist of four, seven-minute periods with clock stoppages for all time-outs, out of bounds plays, possession arrow changes, free throws and all other times a game clock is normally stopped under official basketball rules.  While the WIAA is using 18-minute halves at the high school level, we will continue to use the four quarter format.  Coaches at the younger grade levels often need the extra breaks to have sufficient time to help and instruct younger players.  If the WIAA moves to halves for Middle School teams, we will reconsider this.

For all grade levels, if one team is behind by more than fifteen points after the third period, the fourth period may be played using a running clock.  If this happens, the running clock will be used for the full fourth period, even if the losing team closes the margin to less than sixteen points at some point during the fourth period.  Where the running clock is used in the fourth period, the clock will be stopped only for time-outs taken by one of the teams, substitutions, an injury on the court or for any other reason that the referees decide to call an official's time-out.  The coach of the losing team has the option of waiving the running clock rule, provided that the meet at that point is running on time or ahead of schedule.  The clock operator will ask the head coach of any team losing by sixteen or more points at the end of the third quarter whether they want the clock run.  The only time that the clock will be run without the consent of the losing team's coach is if the Tournament Director (not the game officials) feels the clock must be run to help get a meet that is running significantly behind back on schedule.

Time Between Periods.  There will be a 1-minute break between each period, whether in regulation or in overtime.  The one exception will be between the second and third periods, where there will be a 3-minute ("half time") break.  In the interest of remaining on schedule, a 3-minute break allows a coach extra time for strategy discussions and allows the players to use the rest room, without dragging out the running time of the game unnecessarily.

Time Between Games.  Each team will have 10 minutes to warm up before its first game of the day.  After that, at the conclusion of each game, the two teams playing the next game can access the court immediately to begin warm-ups and the clock operator will set the clock at 7 minutes and start it running.  Within 2 minutes, coaches and players from the teams playing the previous game must fully exit the bench area so that, at the 5 minute mark, both teams playing the next game will be able to have complete access to their bench.  The next game begins after the 7 minute intermission, even if that means commencing the game before its scheduled start.  In those cases where the meet is behind schedule, the clock operator will run off only 5 minutes between games and the referee will encourage the players and coaches from the previous game to exit the court immediately.

Checking in at the Scorer's Table.  Each player going into the game must first check in at the scorer's table.

Fouls.  Each player will be allowed five personal fouls.  Technical fouls called on a specific player for poor sportsmanship, foul language or the like, will not be counted as a personal foul.  Any player or coach receiving two technical fouls will be disqualified from the game.  A disqualified player may remain seated on the bench, unless he becomes a distraction because of verbal and/or behavioral conduct.  A disqualified coach must leave the gymnasium.

If a coach or a player on the bench instructs or shouts to a player on the court to "foul" an opposing player, this will not automatically constitute an intentional or technical foul.  Referees, however, have the option of calling an intentional foul if the fouling player overtly fouls his/her opponent without making a legitimate play on the ball or the person he/she is guarding.

Technical Fouls.  Any time a technical foul is called, the opposing team will shoot two free throws and receive the ball out of bounds.  In the case of a double technical, no free throws will be shot, with the ball given to the team that had possession when the double technical was called.  If the ball was in the possession of neither team when the double technical was called, the possession arrow will determine which team will receive the ball out of bounds.

Time-Outs.  Each team will be allowed two time-outs per half, one time-out per overtime period, and one time-out in sudden death overtime.  Unused time-outs cannot be carried over from one period to the next.

Overtime.  If a game is tied at the end of regulation, the teams will play a 2-minute overtime.  If a game is still tied at the end of the first overtime, there will be a 3-point sudden death overtime period, in which the first team to score three points, by whatever means, will win the game.  There will be a jump ball at the beginning of each overtime period.

Zone Defenses.  Zone defenses will be allowed in 7th and 8th grade meets, but generally not in 6th and 5th grade meets.  Zone defenses of any kind are prohibited in 4th grade meets.

For purposes of 6th grade, 5th grade and 4th grade meets, a player will be deemed to be playing a zone if he or she does not come half way out from the basket to the 3-point arc when defending the person he or she is guarding.  If the person being guarded is further away from the basket than the 3-point arc, the defender need only come halfway between the basket and the 3-point arc, not halfway from the basket to the person being guarded.  The defender on the weak side (the side of the court opposite the ball) must also come out towards the player he/she is guarding (not the ball), at least halfway between the basket and the arc.  When a player on the offensive team below the top of the key (i.e., where the 3-point arc intersects the jump circle above each free throw line) drives to the basket, defenders can double-team the ball (or even triple, quadruple, or quintuple team the ball).  When that happens, defenders on the weak side have a choice when the ball moves toward the basket – they can guard their man or they can double-team the ball – but they cannot stand in the lane partway in between and play a spot on the floor.  A good switching, double-teaming defense is generally not illegal; a team that sets up to play a spot on the floor, rather than a specific opponent, will be considered to be violating this rule.

In 4th grade meets, and in those situations in 6th and 5th grade meets where a full court press is not allowed, when the ball is being brought over the half court line by the offensive team, the defensive team cannot double team the ball above the top of the key, unless the offensive team first brings up a player to set a pick for the ballhandler, in which case both defensive players (the one guarding the ballhandler and the other guarding the player setting the pick) can double team the ballhandler.

6th and 5th Grade Expanded Zone/Press Rule Option.  While zones are prohibited in 6th grade and 5th grade meets, some coaches, particularly those coaching stronger teams, would like to be able to play zone defenses and generally press at any time during the game when there is a point margin of less than 16.  This challenges their players and helps prepare them for tournaments like the Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament where all zones and presses can be used at any time.

Therefore, in every game for 6th and 5th grade teams, the coaches of the two teams will have the option of discussing the use of either or both of these defenses being used for the entire game (rather than pressing only for portions of the game and no half-court zones) and will communicate that decision to the referees.  That decision must be made before the game begins and will remain in place throughout the entire game, even if one or both team’s coaches change their mind during play.  If coaches choose not to expand pressing and zones to the entire game, then regular League Rules will apply (no half-court zones).



  • Full court and half court person-to-person and zone presses are generally allowed in 7th and 8th grade meets.
  • Full court person-to-person or full court zone presses will be allowed in 6th grade boys and girls meets only in the third and fourth quarters and at any time in overtime.
  • Full court person-to-person or full court zone presses will be allowed in 5th grade boys and girls meets only in the fourth quarter and at any time in overtime. 
  • Full court pressure of any kind is prohibited in 4th grade meets. 

During those times when a press cannot be used, players returning to their defensive positions at the other end of the court must not challenge the dribbler or attempt to intercept a direct pass; defenders can, however, pick up a loose ball or muffed pass.  At any of the grade levels, any time a team is ahead of its opponent by more than 15 points, it will no longer be allowed to press full court.  If a team violates this rule, it will receive a warning at the time of the first violation, after which a technical foul will be assessed against the bench on each subsequent occurrence. 

In 6th grade, 5th grade and 4th grade meets, half court zone presses (such as the 1-3-1, or any other half-court trap) are prohibited at any time.

In those situations where pressing is not allowed, if a player in-bounding the ball under an opponent's basket, rolls the ball to half court so as not to start the clock until the recipient of the pass catches the ball (usually done at the end of the quarter with several seconds left on the clock to get off a long, last-second shot), the defensive player cannot cross the half court line and attempt to intercept the rolled ball.  The rationale for taking the opposite position and saying that the defensive player should be allowed to attempt to pick up the ball is that since the ball is not being dribbled or passed directly (i.e., in the air or on one bounce) to the recipient, that the ball is "loose" and can be picked up by either team.

Since both of the above statements are logically true, players and referees should be instructed to address this situation as follows:

  • If all the defensive players have crossed half court and are in their opponent's offensive side of the court, they are not allowed to cross half court to challenge a rolled pass (in those situations where pressing is not allowed).
  • If the defensive players have not crossed the half court line, the offensive player in-bounding the ball should:
  • First, ask the referee to not hand him/her the ball until the defensive players have cleared half court, or
  • Second, the player should pass the ball to the recipient at half court in the air, or on one bounce, so that the defensive player cannot consider the ball to be "loose" and, therefore, under our rules, is not allowed to attempt an interception.

6th and 5th Grade Expanded Zone/Press Rule Option.  Some 6th and 5th grade coaches, particularly those coaching stronger teams, would like to occasionally be able to play zone defenses generally, and press at any time, during the game when there is a point margin of less than 16.  This challenges their players and helps prepare them for tournaments like the Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament where all zones and presses can be used at any time.  As a result, in every game for 6th and 5th grade teams, the coaches of the two teams will have the option of discussing the use of either or both of these defenses being used for the entire game (rather than pressing only for portions of the game and no half-court zones) and will communicate that decision to the referees.  That decision must be made before the game begins and will remain in place throughout the entire game, even if one or both team’s coaches change their mind during play.  If coaches choose not to expand pressing and zones to the entire game, then regular League Rules will apply (pressing only in the third and fourth quarters for 6th grade teams and in the fourth quarter of 5th grade games).

Conduct and Game/Meet Ejections.  Players, coaches, parents and others who use profanity; are demonstrative or loud in their criticism of the referees; taunt, use noisemakers, cowbells, whistles or laser lights to distract opposing players, particularly when shooting a free throw; or are in any way belligerent, will be dealt with assertively.  The referees should not confront a player, parent or other relevant party in the stands.  A coach is responsible for the conduct of all his/her team's fans.  The referee will identify for the coach the offending party and the nature of the offense.  There will be one warning.  If there is a second incident, a technical foul will be called.  If the conduct persists, the offending individual or individuals will be instructed by the relevant coach to leave the gym.  That person will then be given two minutes to leave the gym; failure to do so will result in the team involved forfeiting the game.  The referees involved in officiating the game in question, or the meet director, will make a telephonic report to the League to consider further action against the expelled player, coach or fan.  To help set expectations about player, parent and coach conduct, many basketball associations have all three parties sign a Code of Conduct – a sample of such a code can be seen in Attachment #8 to these Rules.

If a coach or fan is ejected from a game early in the meet, it will be for that game only, not the entire meet.  The same is true for a player.  However, in the case of an adult, if the conduct involved a physical threat of harm, battery (a punch or a push), or necessitated a call to the police, that coach or fan will be ejected for the remainder of the meet.  For a player, where a certain amount of untoward physical contact (i.e., elbowing) is going to take place, expulsion for the remainder of the meet will only take place where the battery was premeditated and demonstrative (e.g., a thrown punch).  The referees make all decisions regarding single game ejections; decisions in full meet ejections are made by the Meet Director in consultation with the game referee.

Fifth and Fourth Grade 13 Foot Free Throw Line.  At 5th and 4th grade boys and girls meets, meet organizers will put a piece of tape 13 feet from the basket in the center of the lane to act as the free throw shooting line.  Through normal wear and tear, this line needs to be replaced periodically throughout the day.  Fifth and fourth grade players have the choice of lining up behind the 13 foot line, behind the 15 foot line, or are even allowed to stand on top of the 15 foot line, so long as they do not cross the 13 foot line before the ball is above the cylinder.

Official Score.  Some teams keep their own scorebook and some don't.  Teams that do not keep their own scorebook must not be disadvantaged by those who do.  Also, because most hosts use a volunteer official scorer who is not accustomed to keeping score, mistakes will be made.  As a result, the score posted on the scoreboard will take precedence over what is posted in anyone's scorebook, including the official scorer's book.  Teams should watch the score as posted on the scoreboard and a coach (not the scorekeeper) of whatever team feels it has been disadvantaged must immediately get the referee's attention if a score has been mis-posted.  The referee, talking to the official scorer and the coaches, must stop the game and try to decipher the error and correct it on the scoreboard.  While the official scorer's book should be consulted, it should not be viewed as controlling if, in the mind of the referees, it may not be an accurate reflection of what the score should be.  In no event should a team's coach be allowed to present "evidence" from their scorebook at the end of the period, during a time-out or at an appreciable time (i.e., several minutes or more) after a score was supposedly mis-posted, even if the official scorer's scorebook confirms that the score posted on the board is incorrect.  This League rule may seem at conflict with WIAA rules, but given the inexperience of most official scorekeepers at League meets, mistakes occur commonly and must be objected to immediately by the disadvantaged team or not at all.  Bottom line: the score on the electronic board controls – not the score in the official scorebook – and errors on the electronic board must be objected to within a short time (a minute or less) of being posted or it must not be changed by the scorer or the referee.

No Shoot Arounds.  Meet directors and referees are asked to aggressively monitor the use of basketballs at each meet by anyone not on the roster of a team currently involved in a game.  A coach from either participant team can appeal to the referees to take action during the game or before the game proceeds.  The following activities are specifically prohibited:

  1. Players of other teams (those not involved in the current game) and other kids (whether older or younger) should not be allowed to have a basketball in their hands in the stands or along the sidelines.  If they do, it's inevitable that a ball will roll out on the court during a game, risking injury.
  2. Players of other teams (those not involved in the current game), other kids (whether older or younger) and the referees, clock operators and scorekeepers, are prohibited from shooting baskets at either main basket or any side basket between periods, during time-outs or between games.

Kids not involved in the ongoing game who feel the need to shoot baskets should do so outside, at home or not come to the meet.  For referees, clock operators and scorekeepers, it is no more appropriate to shoot baskets during a break in the action at a League meet than it would be if they were working a WIAA game.  For liability and decorum purposes, this is a serious issue.  Hosts who ignore it will have their hosting privileges curtailed in future years if multiple complaints are received from visiting teams.

Uniform Jerseys.  Jerseys for all teams must have numbers on both front and back.  It is permissible to have a number on a jersey with a digit greater than 5.

Where both teams want to wear the same color in a given game, the referees will conduct a coin flip as far in advance of tip-off as possible.  If the team losing the coin flip does not have an alternate jersey with them, but the team that won the coin flip does, the latter team will be required to put on their alternate jersey, with the team that lost the flip assessed a bench technical.  The team that switches jerseys then will start the game by shooting two free throws and getting the ball out of bounds (i.e., there will be no opening game tip-off). 

Bench Selection and Maintenance.  At some meets, teams and coaches disagree about who gets to sit at which bench.  While this may seem like an inconsequential issue, there sometimes are competitive reasons to prefer one bench over the other (e.g., location relative to fans, the main entrance, ability to see the clock, etc.).  Bench will be prioritized as follows:

  • The host team(s) always gets first choice.
  • Where both teams are visiting teams, the choices will be done alphabetically:
  • On even numbered days, the team with the community/school name (as listed on the score placard at that meet) nearest the first letter of the alphabet (i.e., "A" gets first choice) will have the first choice as to preferred bench location in each game.
  • On odd numbered days, the team with the community/school name (as listed on the scoring placard at that meet) nearest the end of the alphabet (i.e., "Z" gets first choice), will have the first choice as to the preferred bench location in each game.

The head coach of each team is responsible for fully cleaning up his/her bench area after each game in a timely fashion.  That includes:

  • Getting all equipment, clothing, gear, players and fans away from the bench area within two minutes after their game is completed.
  • Removing all water bottles, sports drink bottles, whether empty or not from underneath the bench or chairs, or immediately behind the chair or bench.  That includes the removal of any such bottles from the previous games.  To avoid having to clean up another team's mess, remind the previous occupant of that bench of their responsibility to clean up (if they don't, file a complaint with the League). 
  • All puddles of water, sports drink, etc., must be wiped up with a towel or toweling before vacating that bench.