Gallagher column: Seeding, times baffle coaches
Getting ready for the Western Regional…
GREENSBORO — Some things just make sense. And some things don’t.
The Western Regional press conference on Monday at the Greensboro Coliseum had coaches shaking their head over the seedings in 1A and the times of the games.
The regional will be held Friday and Saturday at UNC Greensboro’s Fleming Gym.
What makes sense is that Winston-Salem Prep and North Rowan are the highest-ranked teams.
What doesn’t make sense is having the two best teams with the two best records playing each other in the first round, while lower seeds Hendersonville and East Surry — with its 18-11 record — face off.
“I definitely didn’t think it would happen,” said North Rowan coach Andrew Mitchell, whose team comes in 27-3 and on a 19-game winning streak. “I’ve never seen a tournament where 1 and 2 play in the semifinals.”
“I know they used to re-seed them,” added Winston-Salem Prep coach Andre Gould, whose Phoenix are 29-1 and haven’t lost since the Frank Spencer Christmas tournament. “Obviously, they don’t do that now.”
It brings back memories of the 1983 NCAA tournament when Houston’s Phi Slamma Jamma took on Louisville in the semifinals while N.C. State and Georgia met in the other. Everyone thought the actual national title would be the semifinal between Houston and Louisville.
They’re saying the same thing about the North-Prep regional matchup. Whoever wins has already been given a pass to the state championship game.
But Gould says to hold on a minute.
“Obviously, Friday is a big game for both of us,” he said. “But the job is not done with the outcome of that game. We’ll still have a ballgame against another good team that is playing very well to make it to the regionals. You’ve got to make sure you undertstand that.”
What makes even less sense is that the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has the North-Prep game scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Friday. Whoever wins has to turn around quickly and play at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s not a good thing,” Mitchell said. “What we’re looking at is a glorified AAU event. You play late at night and then get up in the morning and play. I never thought that would happen in the NCHSAA.”
Gould said that the winning team has to get its kids bedded down.
“Whoever wins, they don’t get the chance to enjoy that,” Gould said. “They have to get focused really, really quick. You have to refocus that discipline and that’s the biggest thing.”
One coach at the Western Regional with a good perspective on the short turnaround is Andy Muse of 4A Mount Tabor. His Spartans have been in that situation.
“At this stage, you’ve got to realize all these kids are young, they can handle it,” said Muse, whose team lost to Davie County in the Central Piedmont Conference tournament title game. “It’s more of a mental thing. As many games as these kids play in AAU — four or five a day— it’s not that big of a deal to the kids as it is to the coaches.”
What advice would Muse give to Mitchell and Gould?
“You’ve just got to get in bed, drink a lot of fluids, eat some bananas and get back on the court and play the game.”
A game that most everyone thinks should be played on Saturday for the Western Regional championship.
“I’m not going to harp on it,” Gould said. “It’s something that has to be done.
“Do we like it? No.”
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.