Teams still battling for playoff berths
by By Shawn Stinson
ROCKINGHAM — Two weeks, two games.
That is all that is remaining in the regular season before teams find out their playoff fate.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association states a team must finish first, second or third in the conference to qualify for the postseason. In the event of a split conference, a team must finish first or second in their division.
There are 12 leagues grabbing at least three spots and another five split conferences, locking down two slots. By using the NCHSAA’s formula, 46 schools are guaranteed to move forward and vie for either the 4A or 4AA state championship.
McDowell (2-8) and T.C. Roberson (4-5) from the Mountain Athletic Conference as well as South Caldwell (4-5) and Watauga (7-2) out of the Northwestern Conference have clinched their spots in the playoffs because they compete in a split league.
And this leaves 18 wild-card berths up for grabs because if not enough teams qualify using the previous criteria, then the NCHSAA would begin taking schools with the highest 10-game winning percentage, followed by conference winning percentage.
Once the NCHSAA has selected 64 teams, it will then take the top 32 schools based on their Average Daily Membership numbers and place them in the 4AA brackets and the next 32 in the 4A. Then those 32 in each division will be divided in the regions based on their geography.
Heading into Friday’s contests and in some cases tonight’s games because of the threat of rain, there are 56 teams with at least five wins and another nine more with four.
What does all this mean for the teams in the Southeastern Conference?
For three — Pinecrest, Richmond Senior and Scotland — it shows they are nearly locks to advance to the postseason. The Patriots and Raiders are both 8-1 on the season and the Fighting Scots are 9-0.
Richmond has the ability if it were to win its final two games to submit a 10-0 record to the NCHSAA because its lone loss this year was to a nonconference opponent. Scotland would be able to do the same if it were to win out.
However, both schools would be unable to do that because they face off on Nov. 8, so either Richmond or Scotland will be submitting a record with at least one loss.
The best mark the Patriots can currently submit is 9-1, because their one defeat came in conference play to the Fighting Scots. Pinecrest could be forced to wait on pins and needles for Selection Saturday if it were to lose its final two contests and Hoke County was to win its last two. The Bucks would then finish third in the conference with a 3-2 record, while the Patriots would fall to 2-3. If this were to occur, then Pinecrest would be sending a 7-3 mark to the NCHSAA and hoping it could grab one of the wild-card spots.
Purnell Swett, like Hoke, has a chance to force a three-team tie for third, but would need a lot of help for it to happen. The Rams would have to beat the Bucks and have the Raiders down the Patriots. Then in the season-finale, Purnell Swett would need to beat Lumberton and then get Hoke to take down Pinecrest.
In this scenario, the Bucks, the Patriots and the Rams would all have 2-3 records and force the dreaded final tiebreaker of drawing numbers to determine which team would be officially third in the eyes of the NCHSAA for the playoff brackets.
Even though Lumberton could finish the season with a 2-3 conference mark, it doesn’t have a chance in any scenario to overtake Pinecrest for third because it lost to the Patriots 52-28 earlier this season.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.
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