To a few, conference tournament week can seem like a fast-forwarded version of the regular season schedule. But to most everybody else, it’s a one-week chance to improve their standings in the state playoff seedings. For others, it’s a shot at stealing a playoff bid away from someone else with an unforgettable run to the league tournament championship.
Teams who finish in the top half of their conference’s regular-season standings are in the playoffs. Any team that finishes in the plus one slot (playoff bids for each conference are determined by the half-plus-one model where a league with eight members gets five playoff bids) is the team that could be bumped out of the postseason if a lower seeded team wins the conference tournament.
Yes, that would be quite accomplishment for any team but it can happen and has happened before. When it does it moves that team all the way up to a No. 2 seeding for the state playoffs and drops the No. 2 team to the No. 3 seed, the three to four and so on until the plus-one team is left out of the playoffs.
This year, we have a potential winner take all battle developing in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference boys race with Clayton and Garner – who are now ranked No 1 and 2 in the region by the News & Observer - both carrying matching 12-1 records and an unbreakable tie into their final league games. If that tie holds and both teams make the tournament championship game the winner will earn the No. 1 playoff seed in the state playoffs, which means likely a three-game stint at home in the sectional playoffs. It’s quite the reward.
Play in tournaments for all of the area conferences begins Monday and Tuesday night with quarterfinal action across the area. Semifinal rounds are Wednesday and Thursday with championship games set for Friday.
Look for nightly updates online on the PrepsNow blog at blogs.newsobserver.com/prepsnow.
Corinth Holders swimming: Corinth Holders’ outing in the 1A/2A state swimming championships last week featured a slew of swims by individuals and Pirate relay teams that were season’s best times or better than coach Maureen Blandford could have hoped for. The Pirate girls finished seventh in the state and the boys were 10th.
“This was only the third big meet for some of our swimmers, such as our boys 200(-yard) free relay of Bryce Sherrill, Brach Gordon, Dalton Beamer and Bailey Blackwell,” Blandford said. “I was impressed with how these swimmers’ times were faster each meet and able to score points. It is difficult in swimming to shave and taper three times and be successful each time as these four swimmers did.”
Freshman Connor Blandford had his two best times in the individual medley and backstroke, as did Nolan Hopkins in the butterfly and 500 free.
Stephanie Grandin also had top times of her season in the breaststroke and individual medley. The girls’ medley and 400 free relays surprised their coach by swimming to qualifying spots for the state championship heat.
“The medley isn’t our strongest relay so I knew we had a chnce to get top 16 but they swam well and hit their relay strts and squeaked in,” Blandford said. “The boys medley and 400 free kept dropping times every race. …. I finally realizedhow important relays can be after five of our relay teams accumulated 86 points.
“All in all, out of 15 swims we had 12 season best times along with all five relays having best times. We broke seven boys school records and five girls school records.”
Other big drops in time came from Amanda Knickerbocker (two seconds in the backstroke), Cody Beamer (two-tenths in the breaststroke) and Elliot Hunt (four seconds in the 200 free).
“Moving into 3A next season will be a challenge but I am pretty sure they are up for it,” Blandford said. “The time standards for regionals are a little faster but I am confident that we can continue to have success.”
Best: 919-524-8895 or twitter.com/dclaybest