The playoff picture in Class 2A became much clearer last week, while the outlook in Class 3A was shaken up by Scott’s win over Northview Academy.
The Highlanders’ 21-0 win over the Cougars propelled them back into the thick of the Region 2-3A playoff race, denying Northview Academy an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth outright.
Scott High still does not control its own destiny in the playoff chase, but the Highlanders will spend this week’s open date heartily cheering on Pigeon Forge. While this column incorrectly stated last week that Kingston’s win over Scott High had mathematically eliminated the Highlanders from the playoff picture, it failed to take into account what happens if the Tigers upset the Yellow Jackets this week.
Simply put, if Pigeon Forge defeats Kingston this week, Gatlinburg-Pittman defeats Kingston next week, and Scott High defeats Pigeon Forge next week, the Highlanders are in the playoffs as the No. 4 seed from Region 2 — barring an unlikely upset of Austin-East by Northview Academy.
It sounds more complicated than it really is. There are four things that need to happen and three of them are likely to happen. The biggest question mark is whether Pigeon Forge, which has won just once all season, can upset Kingston this week.
If Kingston gets the win over the Tigers, the Highlanders will be eliminated from playoff contention. The best that could happen at that point would be a 3-way tie between Northview Academy, Kingston and the Highlanders for the No. 4 spot, and the tiebreaker favors the Cougars due to their overall record.
A win over Pigeon Forge, meanwhile, would keep Kingston in contention for the playoffs, but the Yellow Jackets would also need to upset Gatlinburg next week — a much more difficult task.
Elsewhere, the top three seeds in Region 2-3A are essentially set. Alcoa, Austin-East and Gatlinburg have secured playoff spots. The winner of a showdown of region upbeatens — the Tornadoes and the Roadrunners — next week will determine the top two seeds, while G-P will be the No. 3 seed.
There’s still some work to be done to decide who each of those teams will face in the postseason, however. Officially, none of the six teams in Region 1-3A have been eliminated from playoff contention. However, North Greene is 0-8 and doesn’t seem to be a threat to defeat Claiborne in its last remaining region game, which means the playoff race in Region 1 can essentially be narrowed to five teams.
Johnson County and Unicoi County will meet next week in a game that will determine Region 1’s top two seeds. Both are 8-1 overall and 4-0 in region play. Those two teams have already secured first round home games, meaning they will host Gatlinburg and whomever emerges from the pack of Northview Academy, Kingston and Scott High.
After that, it gets a little trickier. Chuckey-Doak is currently in third place, but needs a win over West Greene to secure the No. 3 seed.
Claiborne is probably going to finish 2-3 in region play, assuming a win over North Greene, but needs help from Chuckey-Doak to secure a playoff spot. If West Greene defeats Chuckey-Doak, a 3-way tie would be created, and the tiebreaker does not favor the Bulldogs.
Barring an upset, the most likely matchups for the first round of the playoffs are Claiborne at Alcoa, Chuckey-Doak at Austin-East, Northview Academy at Unicoi County and Gatlinburg at Johnson County. And it would not be too surprising to see a first round sweep by Region 2 teams.
The playoff picture in Class 2A is a bit clearer, and Oneida’s first round opponent is basically set.
There were no surprises in Region 2-2A last week; Meigs County defeated Oneida, and Rockwood defeated Wartburg. Both games were decided by lopsided scores, and neither was particularly surprising. Those games locked Meigs County in as the region’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs, and Oneida as the region’s No. 2 seed, while leaving the third and fourth seeds somewhat in question.
Wartburg needed a win over Rockwood to control its own destiny in its postseason bid, but will now rely on the Tigers to defeat Cumberland Gap in next week’s regular season finale. Should that happen, Rockwood will be Region 2’s No. 3 seed, while Wartburg will be the No. 4 seed. Should Cumberland Gap spring an upset, however, a 3-way tie would be created for the final two playoff spots. Based on the teams’ records, Cumberland Gap would finish No. 3, while Rockwood would be No. 4.
Prior to Friday’s games, it was easy to predict that South Greene would wind up as Region 1-2A’s No. 3 seed, sending the Rebels to Oneida for the first round of the playoffs. Instead, South Greene — which has won six straight after an 0-3 start — upset Hampton, and essentially locked up the Region 1 championship in the process.
There is one game of consequence remaining in Region 1: South Greene will face Happy Valley next week. If South Greene wins, the finishing order will be outright: South Green as the No. 1 seed, Hampton No. 2, Happy Valley No. 3 and Sullivan North No. 4. If Happy Valley wins, there’s a 3-way tie atop the region standings, and the head-to-head tiebreaker will not apply. However, with six wins, South Greene would win the tiebreaker and be the No. 1 seed. Hampton would then earn the No. 2 seed by virtue of its win over Happy Valley.
So, a shorter way of saying it: No matter what happens, the finishing order in Region 1 is set. Happy Valley will travel to Oneida on November 2. The Warriors are the team that eliminated the Indians from the playoffs last season. Other first round games will include Sullivan North traveling to Meigs County, and South Greene likely hosting Wartburg and Hampton likely hosting Rockwood.
If the Indians defeat Happy Valley, their destination for the second round of the playoffs would likely be South Greene.