February 12, 2014

Weather forces high school teams to wait

By Chris Whitfield

— Inclement weather across north Georgia has thrown the Georgia High School Association’s postseason schedules for basketball and wrestling into chaos, but the GHSA is making accommodations in an attempt to compensate for the wintry mix.

Play at the Region 7-2A and 7-4A boys and girls basketball tournaments, which include schools from Murray and Whitfield counties, was postponed Monday, Tuesday and today. Play in 7-4A is also off for Thursday.

The Region 5-3A boys and girls basketball tournaments, which include Coahulla Creek and North Murray, were scheduled to start today — but that won’t happen either.

The GHSA announced Monday that basketball state tournaments wouldn’t start until next Wednesday (girls) and Thursday (boys), a day later than originally scheduled, and that regions would have until Monday to determine their state qualifiers.

As for wrestling, the GHSA has pushed back the state traditional tournaments at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth to Friday. The tournament will remain a double-elimination event with full consolation brackets, but it will now be completed in two days for classes 3A-6A. Classes A and 2A were already scheduled for only two days of competition.

For the Region 7-2A and 5-3A basketball tournaments, schedule changes could mean teams face the prospect of playing two games on Saturday.

“We got an email that said if we can start on Thursday, that will push the finals to Monday,” North Murray girls coach Keith Robinette said. “If we can’t start until Friday, then teams will be forced to play two games on Saturday. If that happens you will have fifth seeds versus eighth seeds and sixth seeds versus seventh seeds on Friday, and then those winners play (No. 3) seeds (on Saturday) and then the winners will play again four hours later.”

Dalton, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield are competing in the Region 7-4A tournaments at Cass High School in Cartersville, but only two games have been played in those events, which started Saturday. If they resume Friday, doubling up on Saturday is a given, with the completion of the tournament on Monday. Should the tournament not begin until Saturday, then teams will double up both Saturday and Monday.

In the Region 7-2A tournaments at Calhoun High School, games could be played at two different locations if the events are compressed more and games cannot be played on Thursday.

“The email this morning said, ‘Welcome to the North Pole,’” said Murray County High boys basketball coach Greg Linder, who is also the school’s athletic director. “We are shooting for starting the tournament on Thursday at the earliest. There are five days of games that have to get in and we may have to find an extra site to get all of that in.”

On Monday, games at the Region 6-A tournaments — which include 15 boys and 14 girls teams — were canceled and Christian Heritage was informed its seasons were over because the region had decided to limit the number of teams which would compete to the top eight teams in the regular-season standings.

The possibility that other regions could limit the number of teams competing for state playoff spots was worrisome to Robinette.

“You could conceivably just say that the top four teams go, but as a five or a six or a seven seed, you would really hate that, especially in our region,” Robinette said. “I know on the girls side, there isn’t a whole lot of difference from the No. 3 to the No. 7 seeds. Any of those teams have a legitimate shot of getting into the top four.”