06/23/2024
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By Sonny Jones

If the high school basketball playoff pairings had been announced Sunday — it will be Feb. 18 — and if I have figured correctly — which may or may not be true — then No. 16 seed West Bladen would host No. 17 East Bladen in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2-A boys basketball tournament.

The West Bladen boys have won five straight and are ranked No. 13 in the latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). East Bladen, which lost a pair of overtime games last week, dropped to No. 15 in RPI.

However, both teams would drop a bit for NCHSAA playoff seedings because conference champions are seeded in the first 10 slots based on RPI, then RPI is used to fill the remaining 22 slots. So, a team such as Roanoke Rapids with a 4-12 record would be the No. 10 seed because, for now, it would be the top 2-A team in a combined 3-A/2-A conference. Greene Central, which is No. 5 RPI, would be No. 11 playoff seed because No. 1 Farmville Central would be the conference champion.

The playoff situation should clear some by this weekend when the regular season ends, but conference tournaments also will factor into RPI.

To say the situation is fluid with two weeks of games remaining is akin to you rather eating a large slice of chocolate cake than a bowl of prunes. But even the chance of a West Bladen-East Bladen first-round boys state playoff game is enticing enough to maybe try a slice of prune cake.

HOW BLADEN TEAMS STAND

The Ratings Percentage Index formula includes a teams’ winning percentage, the winning percentage of opponents and the winning percentage of opponents’ opponents.

WEST BLADEN BOYS
• Record: 16-6 overall, 7-3 conference
• Current RPI: 0.564510; Last week: 0.541404
• Current Seed: 13; Last week: 17; Two weeks ago: 17
• This Week: Tuesday home vs. St. Pauls (12-10, 8-2 SAC); Friday at Midway (11-9, 3-7 SAC)
• Last Week: Beat East Bladen 54-52 (OT); beat Fairmont 44-39; beat Red Springs 66-55 (OT)
• Outlook: The Knights are red-hot at the right time. With a pair of wins this week, West Bladen could be the Southeastern Athletic Conference champion. The opportunity to host a playoff game or two is what’s on the line this week.

EAST BLADEN BOYS
• Record: 15-5 overall, 7-3 conference
• Current RPI: 0.557659; Last week: 0.577048
• Current Seed: 15; Last week: 12; Two weeks ago: 12
• This Week: Tuesday home vs. Red Springs (15-7, 7-3 SAC); Friday at St. Pauls (12-10, 8-2 SAC)
• Last Week: Lost to West Bladen 54-52 (OT); lost to Fairmont 68-66 (OT)
• Outlook: How will the Eagles bounce back from a pair of heartbreaking, overtime losses last week? It will determine where they are seeded for the state playoffs. A pair of tough tests await to wrap up the regular season and a conference championship is up for grabs.

EAST BLADEN GIRLS
• Record: 14-6 overall, 6-4 conference
• Current RPI: 0.574377; Last week: 0.575143
• Current Seed: 14; Last week: 14; Two weeks ago: 14
• This Week: Tuesday home vs. Red Springs (12-10, 6-4 SAC); Friday at St. Pauls (15-4, 9-1 SAC)
• Last Week: Beat West Bladen 70-29; lost to Fairmont 39-28
• Outlook: Third-place is on the line when the Eagles host Red Springs. A pair of wins this week may allow East Bladen to get a home playoff game, although not assured. Under current ratings, East Bladen projects to be No. 16 and would host No. 17 Edenton Holmes. The Eagles’ two games this week will decide a lot as far as seeding.

WEST BLADEN GIRLS
• Record: 8-11 overall, 1-9 conference
• Current RPI: 0.465502; Last week: 0.468317
• Current Seed: 32; Last week: 32; Two weeks ago: 23
• This Week: Tuesday home vs. St. Pauls (15-4, 9-1 SAC); Friday at Midway (10-10, 3-7 SAC)
• Last Week: Lost to East Bladen 70-29; lost to Fairmont 56-31; lost to Red Springs 54-42
• Outlook: Although it may not be impossible for the Knights to make the state playoffs, it is unlikely, especially with a current 10-game losing streak. However, if West Bladen could beat Midway in the final game of the regular season, then the Knights may be able to slip in to the state playoffs. It would depend on what other teams rated above and below finish up as well.

Here is the RPI for other Southeastern Athletic Conference teams as of Saturday night:

BOYS (Last week)
12. St. Pauls (13)
17. Red Springs (16)
28. Fairmont (31)
29. Midway (28)
48. Clinton (48)

GIRLS (Last week)
3. Fairmont (4)
5. St. Pauls (5)
16. Red Springs (21)
21. Midway (19)
35. Clinton (34)

TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY

• 1988 — Chicago’s Michael Jordan wins the NBA Slam Dunk contest with a perfect score of 50 on his final dunk, in front of a hometown crowd at Chicago Stadium.

POTATO PICKS TO WATCH TODAY

• WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Virginia Tech at N.C. State, 6 p.m., ESPN2

• BASKETBALL: Duke at Miami, 7 p.m., ESPN

• HOCKEY: AHL All-Star Classic, 7 p.m., NHLN

• NBA: L.A. Clippers at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m., NBATV

• NBA: Milwaukee at Portland, 10 p.m., NBATV

Sonny Jones can be reached at wibbyj@gmail.com.

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