ROCKINGHAM — After 3 1/2 months of practice and games, it comes down to one contest for the Richmond Senior girls basketball team.
If Richmond beats Scotland tonight, it will clinch the No. 4 seed in next week’s Southeastern Conference tournament. The Raiders would also grab the fourth seed outright if Pinecrest were to knock off Hoke County.
But a loss would have Richmond waiting for the result from the Hoke County-Pinecrest contest to learn their fate.
If the Bucks upset the Patriots and the Raiders fall to the Fighting Scots, then Hoke and Richmond would both finish with 3-7 league marks. Because the teams split the season series, Hoke would win the tiebreaker because it would have a better record against a higher-finishing school (Pinecrest) than Richmond. The Patriots swept the Raiders in league play.
Finishing fourth in the regular season not only allows a team to host an opening round game in the conference tournament, but moves it a step closer to qualifying for the state playoffs. While Hoke would have the upper hand on Richmond in the case of a tie for conference tournament seeding, this advantage would be tossed aside to determine the SEC’s fourth team to receive an automatic bid to the state playoffs.
That would be decided on the court. The team which advances further in the conference tournament would officially be the league’s fourth-place team. Unless the fifth- or sixth-place team captures the conference tournament. If this were to occur, then the school which finished fourth in the standings would lose its automatic bid to the winner of the tourney.
After its surprising come-from-behind victory Tuesday night, Purnell Swett has the chance to move up and grab the fifth seed. It would have to upset Lumberton tonight and have Hoke fall to Pinecrest. This would give the Bucks and the Rams identical 2-8 conference records. Purnell Swett would gain the edge in the tiebreaker because it had a better record versus a higher-finishing team (Lumberton).
Unlike the girls tournament bracket which will be decided tonight, the boys field was set Tuesday.
Hoke County and Richmond have locked in the top two seeds and will have first-round byes. The Bucks will try to complete an undefeated SEC season, while the Raiders will shoot for their fourth straight league win.
Pinecrest earned the third seed and will host Purnell Swett in a first-round contest Monday. Lumberton clinched the No. 4 seed with its home victory over Scotland Tuesday. The two schools will return to Lumberton for a rematch Monday.
The winner of the Pinecrest-Purnell Swett contest will travel to Richmond Wednesday, with Hoke playing host to either Lumberton or Scotland.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.