03/03/2024
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By Sonny Jones

What a way to start a week with West Bladen hosting East Bladen tonight in basketball. The varsity boys game should be electric between teams jockeying for playoff seeding. East Bladen won the first meeting 52-44. Expect another tight game at The Castle.

The JV boys get things started at 4:30 p.m. followed by the varsity girls about 6 p.m. and the varsity boys about 7:30 p.m. Hopefully you learned earlier this month that you need to arrive early for a seat. The East Bladen gym was packed by the time the varsity girls game began.

Here’s how Bladen County varsity teams rank in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) as of Sunday night. It’s the formula the state uses to help with playoff seeding and first-round pairings. The formula includes a teams winning percentage, the winning percentage of opponents and the winning percentage of opponents’ opponents. State playoff seedings will be announced Feb. 18.

EAST BLADEN BOYS
Record: 15-3 overall, 7-1 conference
Current RPI: 0.577048; Last week: 0.568601
Current Seed: 12; Last week: 12; Two weeks ago: 12
This Week: Monday at West Bladen (13-6, 4-3 SAC); Friday at Fairmont (5-14, 2-6 SAC)
Outlook: The Eagles will be in the playoffs. They need to keep winning to assure home games. If East Bladen finishes second in the Southeastern Athletic Conference, then a home playoff game is about 50/50. Remember, the 10 conference champions are seeded 1 through 10, then it’s RPI to fill out the other 22 teams.

WEST BLADEN BOYS
Record: 13-6 overall, 4-3 conference
Current RPI: 0.541404; Last week: 0.538201
Current Seed: 17; Last week: 17; Two weeks ago: 14
This Week: Monday home vs. East Bladen (15-3, 7-1 SAC); Wednesday at Fairmont (5-14, 2-6 SAC); Friday home vs. Red Springs (13-6, 5-2 SAC)
Outlook: The Knights will be in the playoffs, especially with 13 wins already. West Bladen is playing for seeding now and this is an important week with three games.

EAST BLADEN GIRLS
Record: 13-5 overall, 5-3 conference
Current RPI: 0.575143; Last week: 0.559972
Current Seed: 14; Last week: 14; Two weeks ago: 11
This Week: Monday at West Bladen (8-8, 1-6 SAC); Friday at Fairmont (17-3, 7-1 SAC)
Outlook: The Eagles will be in the playoffs, although a likely third-place conference finish will mean any state tournament games will be played on the road.

WEST BLADEN GIRLS
Record: 8-8 overall, 1-6 conference
Current RPI: 0.468317; Last week: 0.479629
Current Seed: 32; Last week: 23; Two weeks ago: 21
This Week: Monday home vs. East Bladen (13-5, 5-3 SAC); Wednesday at Fairmont (17-3, 7-1); Friday home vs. Red Springs (9-10, 3-4 SAC)
Outlook: A seven-game losing streak and three tough games this week likely will end the Knights’ playoff hopes. Injuries have taken a toll on West Bladen this season and resulted in a drop of 11 places in RPI rankings from two weeks ago.

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

BOYS (Last week)
13. St. Pauls (13)
16. Red Springs (18)
28. Midway (28)
31. Fairmont (31)
48. Clinton (47)

GIRLS (Last week)
4. Fairmont (5)
5. St. Pauls (4)
19. Midway (18)
21. Red Springs (21)
34. Clinton (37)

TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY

• 1983 — John Riggins rushes for a Super Bowl-record 166 yards on 38 carries to spark the Washington Redskins to a comeback 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins. For Riggins, the game’s MVP, it’s his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game during the playoffs, also a record.

POTATO PICKS TO WATCH TODAY

• BASKETBALL: NC Central at Norfolk State, 7 p.m., ESPNU

• NBA: LA Lakers at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m., NBATV

• NHL: St. Louis at Winnipeg, 8 p.m., NHLN

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

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

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