(Updated at 12:45 p.m. Thur., w/ changed quarterfinal times) Advance unknown of boys' #2 and #3 seeds settled by flip of coin; Hale/Bosworth gets higher spot, Southwest Livingston lower. Norborne girls prohibitive favorite, but boys' division seems wide open
Not that it figures to be of critical importance, but the biggest uncertainty regarding the shaping of the approaching 2020 Carroll-Livingston Activity Association high school basketball tournament was decided in Hale/Bosworth's favor Wednesday by a coin flip.
While it was clear undisputed and undefeated girls' regular-season champion Norborne and assured boys' co-champion Keytesville had the top seedings secured prior to the seeding meeting, the fact that Southwest Livingston's and Hale/Bosworth's boys have identical CLAA records to date and have yet to play – they won't meet until Feb. 19, due to a January postponement – meant, under conference rules, which would get the second seeding and which would be third was determined not by an arbitrary comparison, but by an unbiased flip of a coin.
After making sure it wasn't a Harvey Dent (2-headed) coin, the flip produced a favorable result for Hale/Bosworth, making it the No. 2 seed. Given that, if both the Cardinals and SLHS' Wildcats claim their quarterfinal games, as anticipated, they'd face each other in the semifinals, regardless of who had been the higher seed, the only measurable consequence of the coin flip was that Hale/Bosworth will oppose No. 7 seed Hardin-Central in the quarterfinals and Southwest will play its first game of the tourney against No. 6 Tina-Avalon.
The Feb. 8-15 tournament at centrally-located traditional site Tina-Avalon School in extreme northern Carroll County – if bad weather doesn't intrude, which was the case a year ago when the tournament ended up cancelled after getting only one or two days of games played – will tip off with two midday, first-round (play-in) games this Saturday between the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds. The boys' game between No. 8 Norborne and No. 9 Breckenridge will be first at 11:00 a.m., followed by the girls' game between No. 8 Hale/Bosworth and No. 9 Keytesville. Both No. 9 seeds are winless overall this season.
Saturday's winners become the quarterfinals opponents for the No. 1 teams, both of those games occurring Tuesday.
While the girls' division title of this year's CLAA tourney seems to be Norborne's for the having, a supportable case could be made for any of the top four boys' seeds – Brunswick is No. 4 – to be the last team standing on Feb. 15.
If a surprise story, based on the seedings, were to emerge, considering recent play, it might be the host Tina-Avalon Lady Dragons. By riding their improved performances of late to the No. 5 seeding, they'll open next Monday against a vulnerable Mendon: Northwestern squad which has wobbled through late January and early February. If T-A continues to play well and advances to next Thursday's championship semifinals, it likely would be pitted against No. 2 Hardin-Central. HCHS' Lady Bulldogs, powered by forward Carly Thacker and a solid supporting cast, would be the favorite to reach the title game, but T-A's overall height plus solid point guard Haley Rucker could be a decent physical matchup with Hardin-Central's group.
Intriguing in the boys' division is the potential – and expected – third meeting of the season between top-seeded Keytesville and Brunswick.
Back on Dec. 10, Brunswick made the 12-miles trip east to Keytesville and slaughtered their traditional chief rival by 36 points in their CLAA regular-season contest. Not quite two weeks ago, the clubs squared off on the KHS hardwoods again in the championship game of the Keytesville Invitational and the host Tigers came away with a 2-points victory.
If it happens, as is expected, the Southwest Livingston vs. Hale/Bosworth boys' semifinal also would serve as a foreshadowing of their later non-tourney clash at Ludlow which will determine which splits the regular-season crown with Keytesville.
An additional, interesting aspect of this year's tournament – next year's event should return to 10 participants with Braymer's admission to the loop in 2020-21, is that it will be the first time in close to a decade that Breckenridge's girls won't be involved in a "play-in" game. The Lady Bulldogs' pair of regular-season league triumphs earned them an automatic spot in the quarterfinals and assurance they'd play at least twice, weather permitting.