The Litter Box by
Larry the SportsCat
(Katlama, WA) Hey Gang! Hope everyone is having a great New Year’s so far, it’s always an exciting time for the Winter Sports Season and takes away those post holiday blues in a hurry. You can’t help but get excited for January and early February with the heart of the Basketball, Wrestling, Swimming, Gymnastics and Girls Bowling season in full swing and already here we are headed for Post-Season. The Girls Bowling just wrapped up and the rest of the sports have entered or are about to enter the play-offs.
This brings me to what the meaning of play-offs is supposed to mean. Play-offs are to advance in the play-off to determine the ultimate winner. League play is to determine who get the chance to go to post-season and what order. The better you do in the regular season the better position you have in the play-offs and likely the better chance for you to move on. So what happens when 2 teams finish with the season with identical records and there is no head-to-head advantage. This easily happens in basketball well generally each team plays every other league member twice so you can finish with the same record and split the head-to-head series.
There are 2 ways to break this tie one is to simply play a 3rd game winner take all or some kind of convoluted tie-breaking system. We witnessed both systems at play this past week and I came to one conclusion, PLAY THE DAMN GAME!
When Timberline played Olympia the Blazers could tie the Bears for 2nd in the Narrows 4A boys league and there was no doubt if that occurred they would play again on the following Saturday to determine the 2nd and 3rd seeds into the District Tournament. This was big because the 2nd seed would get to host an opening round District game while 3rd place would go on the road and as Olympia Coach John Kiley told us no way would he want a flip of a coin or some useless stat determine the fate of something that important. Fortunately for the Bears they survived the Blazers winning it in overtime.
In the 2nd game the situation was a bit different. The Evco 2A Champs were Tumwater heading into their final game against Black Hills. The Wolves were 3-2 while Centralia who had finished their league schedule the night before defeating WF West by a single point was 3-3. So if the Wolves could beat the T-Birds they would clinch 2nd place and a host an opening round District game. If they lost they would be tied with Centralia but there would not be a 3rd game played between the 2 teams, not in the Evco 2A, instead they use a point-differential tie-breaking system to determine final seeding into Districts.
So coming into this game Black Hills knew they had to win but if they didn’t if they could lose by no more than 6 points they would clinch the 2nd seed. Black Hills Coach Jeff Gallagher certainly knew the situation and even told our crew prior to the game if they trailed by 6 points with 30-seconds left to go in the game he’d likely try to run out the clock to secure a home court district game. They could not catch Tumwater for even a tie for 1st so there was no point in wasting a chance to clinch the 2nd seed regardless of the win or loss.
In the game the Wolves would get a buzzer beating 3-point shot from TJ Mickelson to go from a 9-point loss to a 6-point loss but Black Hills celebrated like they won but in fact they were 46-40 losers. The bigger loser from a last second shot that meant nothing in the game that was being played meant everything to the Centralia Tigers because now they not only won’t get to host a District play-off game against the GSHL’s #3 seed they will have to travel to the GSHL’s #2 seed instead. Was this really determined by an unlikely last second shot in a game where the team shooting the ball trailed by 9 when the shot left Mickelson’s hand and happened to go in? The answer is Yes.
Maybe I could understand not playing this tie off if they had to play again on Monday or Tuesday but they don’t have another game for 8 days, 9 for Centralia!! The lesson I’d take from this if I am a coach is that if you are not going to play-off important ties and allow something like point differential determine important seeding at the end of the season I would NEVER take my foot off the gas against any team. If Centralia Coach Ron Brown had realized their District Tournament seeding would be determined by a single meaningless basket he may have strategized completely differently and found a way earlier in the season to increase every point differential possibility he could and that means when a game is no longer in doubt teams should not let up and keep scoring until the final buzzer.
Can you imagine in a game where you lead by 8 and there is 5-seconds to play and the coach of the losing team tells his players not to foul and instead of standing there bouncing the ball to run out the clock the winning team races down and scores another hoop before time ran out to get an extra 2 points because you know that could be the difference between the 2nd and 3rd seed into the District Tournament and for that matter could be the difference between the 1st and 2nd seeds. Larry The SportsCat is on record as saying this is the absolute stupidest way to determine important seeding into any tournament.
I can say this though and assure Centralia fans that Tumwater did all they could to stop Black Hills including 2 players with hands in the face of Mickelson who stepped back and launched the deciding shot. I know that doesn’t reduce the frustration Tiger fans must have over this system and all we can hope is that as the new Evco 2A league comes together next welcoming back Aberdeen and Rochester to make it a 6-team league that they allow the teams to determine their fates and not some stupid tie-breaker based on points that aren’t even important to the game they are scored.
That’s my 2-cents and I will re-iterate one more time Evco 2A PLAY THE DAMN GAME!!! Ok, til next time Larry out and remember hugs not drugs!