PROFESSOR'S PROVERBS -- FEBRUARY 8, 2018
As Steve Miller sang over 40 years ago, "time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future." It's hard to believe that we have almost reached the end of the regular season for the local high school basketball teams in Mercer County and District 10 on the whole.
With one week left in the regular season, a lot remains to be decided in terms of region titles and playoff positioning on both the boys' and girls' sides. Almost every game remaining on the schedule has some form of implications for titles or seeding.
When District 10 expanded the playoffs a few years back and ultimately went to an open format, many (including me) thought that it would cheapen the regular season. I think this season have proven that notion to be false. This regular season has been very entertaining and played at a high level in both boys and girls basketball locally.
For some reason several years ago, the PIAA ham-handedly reduced basketball schedules from 24 to 22 games. The open tournament in District 10 means that every could play at least 23 games. Ohio and Indiana have had open tournaments for decades and those have been very popular. In summation, you can classify me as a convert.
Anyway, the playoffs start on the 16th (boys) and 17th (girls) with first-round games that will whittle the fields down to eight teams in the quarterfinals. Let's take a look at what could be coming down the pike, starting on the boys side (they start first).
Three teams in the classification. Kennedy Catholic has clinched Region 1 and will play Commodore Perry or Jamestown on the D-10 title game. Top two advance to the state tournament, so the Commodore Perry-Jamestown playoff semifinal is for a state playoff berth. Jamestown owns a win over CP already and the teams play Tuesday night. At this point, the teams are playing for seeding that would determine who wears white jerseys and who wears dark shirts in their playoff meeting.
There are 14 teams in 2A, six in Region 2 (Mercer County, plus Rocky Grove) and eight in Region 3 (the Crawford County and northern schools). Region champions get berths in quarterfinals, the other 12 teams play off for the six other quarterfinal berths.
In Region 2, West Middlesex (10-2) leads Rocky Grove (9-3) and Lakeview (8-4). Lakeview swept Rocky Grove, however, and also owns a win over West Middlesex. The Sailors host West Middlesex this Friday night. West Middlesex needs two wins or one win and a Rocky Grove loss to Mercer or Greenville to clinch the top spot. Two Rocky Grove wins would guarantee the Orioles no worse than second place. All three teams could end up first, second, or third.
Wilmington (7-5) could pass Lakeview for third if the Sailors lose Friday to West Middlesex. Wilmington would need to defeat Greenville and then down Lakeview in the season finale Tuesday night. Wilmington cannot pass Rocky Grove due to losing both regular season games. If the teams end up in a 9-5 three-way tie, they would all be 2-2 among the three teams (all 2-0 sweeps) and it would come down to the second tiebreaker (record vs. 2A teams in the league). In that case, Lakeview would be 8-2, Rocky Grove would be 6-4 and Wilmington 6-4. Rocky Grove then has 2-0 edge on Wilmington.
Reynolds has a one-game lead over Mercer for the fifth spot. Those teams play Tuesday night in the finale. If Mercer wins to force a tie and season split, Mercer likely would get the higher seed due to the tiebreaker (wins over larger schools Slippery Rock and Bradford boost Mercer's total).
In Region 3, Cambridge Springs is 11-1, while Eisenhower is 10-2. Those teams have split their meetings. Cochranton (8-4) and Iroquois (7-5) own the next two spots. Iroquois closes with Cambridge Springs and Eisenhower, however. Union City (6-6) has split with Iroquois this year and hosts Cochranton in the finale. Maplewood (3-9), Saegertown (2-10) and Youngsville (1-11) round out the standings. Maplewood plays both Saegertown and Youngsville to close the league schedule and can clinch the No. 6 spot with a win over Saegertown.
The bracket is this: FIRST ROUND: 3-5 at 2-4, 3-7 at 2-2,
2-6 at 3-3, 2-5 at 3-4, 3-8 at 3-2, 3-6 at 2-3. As of
now, it would look like:
Union City at Wilmington (winner to face Cambridge Springs), Saegertown at Rocky Grove, Mercer at Cochranton, Reynolds at Iroquois (winner to face West Middlesex), Saegertown at Eisenhower, Maplewood at Lakeview.
Top four advance to state tournament.
With Erie First Christian being banished from the District 10 playoffs due to recruiting violations, we have nine eligible teams. Seven come from Region 4 (Erie County area), along with Sharpsville and Greenville from Region 2. That means we have only one first-round game, with the other seven teams starting in the quarterfinals.
In Region 2, Greenville (8-4) will be the top 3A seed while Sharpsville (5-7) is No. 2. In Region 4, Fairview (15-0) has clinched the top spot while Mercyhurst Prep (9-6) moves up into the second spot with Erie First (11-3) out of the picture. Titusville (7-7) is third but cannot pass Mercyhurst due to losing twice to the Lakers. Girard and Northwestern are each 6-8 and have split their two meetings. Both teams also split with Titusville.
Girard plays Seneca (4-9) and North East (3-11) to close the season. Seneca would win a tiebreaker with Northwestern, having defeated the Wildcats twice. Northwestern closes the season with home games against Erie First and Conneaut, Ohio. North East will be the seventh seed if Seneca wins once or the Grape Pickers lose once due to Seneca's season sweep.
It could be argued that finishing sixth or seventh is more advantageous than finishing fourth or fifth. 4-6 and 4-7 will play the preliminary game, with the winner facing 4-2 (Mercyhurst Prep). The fifth-place team would have played No. 8 in a first-round game, with the winner meeting Fairview. But with no "4-8," the 4-5 team automatically gets Fairview, unless D-10 redraws the bracket. District 10 does not replace teams that opt out voluntarily -- will Erie First be treated as an opt out for these purposes? On the other side, 4-4 gets Greenville.
The bracket is this (as of now): FIRST ROUND: 4-7 at 4-6. QUARTERFINALS: 4-1 vs 4-5, 2-2 vs 4-3, 2-1 vs 4-4, 4-6/4-7 vs 4-2. As of now, it would look like: Fairview vs Northwestern, Sharpsville vs Titusville, Greenville vs Girard, Mercyhurst Prep vs Seneca/North East. (Girard is placed fourth in this scenario due to theoretically more favorable schedule.)
Top three advance to state tournament.
There are 14 teams in Class 4A, eight in Region 5 (the South) and six in Region 6 (the North). The two region champions receive byes to the quarterfinals, the other 12 teams will battle for the six remaining quarterfinal spots.
In Region 5, Sharon (12-0) clinches the outright title with a win over Hickory (Friday) or George Junior (Tuesday). Hickory (10-2) needs a win Friday and a home win Tuesday over Franklin, coupled with a Sharon loss at GJR to share the title. Hickory may end up ahead of Sharon in tiebreaker points, should it come to that, due to a schedule that featured Class 6A teams Penn Hills and Erie, along with Lincoln Park and Beaver Falls. Grove City (8-4) will likely be third, owning a one-game lead and a 2-0 sweep of fourth-place Franklin (7-5).
George Junior and Oil City are each 4-8 and split their two games. GJR plays Grove City and Sharon to finish while Oil City has Farrell and Grove City. Farrell is 3-9 but would tie Oil City with a win Friday. Farrell closes at Slippery Rock (0-12).
In Region 6, General McLane (7-2) clinches the top spot with a win at sixth-place Conneaut or losses by both Harbor Creek (5-3) and Warren (5-3). Warren and Harbor Creek play Friday night to potentially determine second place. Harbor Creek won the first meeting at home, 59-41. Each team split with General McLane as well.
Fort LeBoeuf (4-6) is in the clubhouse while Corry (3-6) closes at Warren. Conneaut (2-6) owns wins over LeBoeuf and Corry but closes against McLane and Harbor Creek. Fourth place is critical in Region 6 as that team will get a home game.
The bracket is this: FIRST ROUND: 6-5 at 5-4, 5-8 at 5-2, 5-6 at 6-3, 5-5 at 6-4, 5-7 at 6-2, 6-6 at 5-3. As of now, it would be: Corry at Franklin (winner plays General McLane), Slippery Rock at Hickory, George Junior at Warren, Oil City at Fort LeBoeuf (winner plays Sharon), Farrell at Harbor Creek, Conneaut at Grove City (would be 3rd meeting, interestingly).
Top four teams advance to state tournament.
CLASS 5A, CLASS 6A
Meadville vs. Erie Cathedral Prep in Class 5A, McDowell vs. Erie in 6A
There are four teams in Class 1A. All four play in Region 1 and the four seeds have been clinched. Kennedy Catholic (11-1) will be first, followed by Farrell (8-4), Commodore Perry (5-7) and Jamestown (0-12). Semifinals would be Kennedy-Jamestown, Farrell-Commodore Perry. The top two teams advance to the state tournament.
There are 12 teams in Class 2A. Four teams in Region 1 (Mercer County) are Class 2A while Region 3 (Crawford County and north) is comprised of eight Class 2A teams. The top two Class 2A teams in each region receive byes to the quarterfinals while the other eight teams will vie for the four remaining quarterfinal spots.
In Region 1, West Middlesex (11-1) and Reynolds (7-5) have clinched the first two spots, respectively. Rocky Grove and Mercer are both 3-9, having split their two games. Should the teams end up tied, Rocky Grove likely has tiebreaker edge due to points -- a win over 4A Titusville will be deciding factor.
In Region 3, Cambridge Springs (12-0) and Maplewood (11-1) will have the top two spots. Spa won at Maplewood earlier; the teams close the regular season at Cambridge Springs Monday night. Saegertown and Cochranton are both 7-5, having gone 1-1 against each other. Saegertown has a more favorable schedule to finish, playing Iroquois (2-10) and Union City (0-12).
Youngsville (5-7) lost both games to Saegertown and already fell at home to Cochranton. Youngsville visits Cochranton Thursday night. Eisenhower is 4-8 and must still play Spa and Cochranton. Iroquois and Union City have the last two spots secured.
The bracket is this: FIRST ROUND: 3-5 at 1-4, 3-8 at 3-3, 3-7 at 3-4, 3-6 at 1-3. As of now, it would be: Youngsville at Mercer (winner plays Cambridge Springs), Union City at Saegertown (winner plays Reynolds), Iroquois at Cochranton (winner plays West Middlesex), Eisenhower at Rocky Grove (winner plays Maplewood).
Top three teams advance to state tournament.
There are nine teams in Class 3A, five from Region 2 (Mercer County) and four from Region 4 (Erie County). Seven teams will earn quarterfinal berths with one first-round game.
In Region 2, Sharpsville and Greenville are both 11-1. Sharpsville won the first meeeting at Greenville and clinches the top spot Monday night with a win over Greenville, regardless of the Blue Devils' outcome at Sharon. If both teams win or both lose Thursday night, Monday becomes winner-take-all for the region and the top spot. Greenville needs two wins to ensure the top spot. If Greenville loses Thursday night to Franklin but wins Monday night at Sharpsville to force a tie at 12-2, the tiebreaker likely favors Sharpsville, due to wins over 5A Fort LeBoeuf and Conneaut, as well as also having played 5A General McLane.
Sharon, Lakeview and Wilmington are all 5-7. Lakeview swept Wilmington and split with Sharon. Wilmington twice defeated Sharon, putting Sharon at a disadvantage in tiebreakers. Sharon also closes with Sharpsville and Oil City. Lakeview plays Franklin and Titusville, the two teams occupying seventh and eight place. Wilmington plays at Oil City before hosting Titusville in the finale.
In Region 4, Seneca and Northwestern are both 6-4, having split their two meetings. The tiebreaker could get very complex with those two schools. Seneca hosts Fort LeBoeuf Friday night. North East (3-7) will be third and Fairview (0-10) is fourth.
The bracket is this: FIRST ROUND: 2-5 at 4-4. QUARTERFINALS: 2-4 vs 4-1, 4-3 vs 2-2, 2-1 vs 4-4/2-5, 2-3 vs 4-2. As of now, it would be: Sharon at Fairview (winner plays Sharpsville/Greenville) in the first round. QUARTERFINALS: Seneca/Northwestern vs Wilmington, Greenville/Sharpsville vs North East, Sharon/Fairview vs. Sharpsville/Greenville, Lakeview vs Northwestern/Seneca.
Top two teams advance to state tournament.
Five teams total in Class 4A. Villa Maria and Mercyhurst Prep from Region 4, Oil City, Franklin and Titusville from Region 3. Villa Maria is Region 4 champion and Mercyhurst is No. 2. Oil City, Franklin and Titusville are first, second and third, respectively, among the 4A teams in Region 2.
The bracket is this: QUARTERFINAL 2-3 vs 4-2. SEMIFINALS: 4-1 vs 2-2, 2-1 vs 2-3/4-2. As of now, it would be: QUARTERFINAL: Titusville vs. Mercyhurst Prep. SEMIFINALS: Villa Maria vs. Franklin, Oil City vs. Mercyhurst/Titusville.
Champion advances to state tournament.
Eleven teams comprise the Class 5A field in District 10. Seven come from Region 5 (southern and western teams) while the other four come from Region 6.
In Region 5, Slippery Rock (9-1) has the inside track to the top spot over Hickory (8-2) after Monday night's Rocket victory. Slippery Rock still plays General McLane (8-3) in what is GM's league finale Thursday night. McLane would need Hickory to lose twice and Slippery Rock to lose Monday night to Meadville to possibly earn the top spot. A three-way tie would oust General McLane due to an 0-2 record against Hickory.
Girard (6-5) will be No. 4. Meadville (3-7) and Grove City (2-8) are battling for fifth and sixth. Those two teams split their regular season meetings. Grove City hosts Conneaut and Girard to conclude the season. Should Meadville and Grove City end up tied at 3-9 or 4-8, Grove City may end up with the tiebreaker edge due to more wins out of conference, thus accumulating more points. Conneaut (0-10) will be seventh.
The Region 6 spots are secure. Harbor Creek (7-1) will be first, followed by Warren (5-5), Fort LeBoeuf (2-7) and Corry (0-8). LeBoeuf owns two wins over Corry and cannot fall below third. Harbor Creek receives a bye to the quarterfinals, as will the top two Region 5 teams.
The bracket is this: FIRST ROUND: 5-7 at 5-4, 5-6 at 6-3, 5-5 at 6-4. QUARTERFINALS: 5-4/5-7 vs 6-1, 6-3/5-6 vs 5-2, 5-5/6-4 vs 5-1, 6-2 vs 5-3. As of now, it would be: FIRST ROUND: Conneaut at Girard (winner plays Harbor Creek), Grove City at Fort LeBoeuf (winner plays Hickory), Meadville at Corry (winner plays Slippery Rock). OTHER QUARTERFINAL: Warren vs. General McLane.
Top three teams advance to state tournament.
McDowell vs. Erie. The winner goes to the state tournament.
*A few reminders. The opt-out date for teams is Friday, the 9th. There will likely be a handful of teams on both sides that elect to not participate. That could affect the draw in some cases.
*First-round games are actual home site games. Everything after that (quarterfinals, semifinals, finals) are neutral site games. The team on the top half of the bracket is the home team, so if you end up with say "3-5" vs. "3-2," it's possible that the No. 5 team would be wearing white jerseys. It's not a huge factor but it is something that some fans will squawk about. "WE'RE THE HIGHER SEED! WE SHOULD BE HOME TEAM!" It's not like you get last at-bat or call of the coin toss.
*If you're curious about the advanced tiebreakers, click here and go to Page 15.
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