02/15/04 — Area teams gear up for conference tourneys

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Area teams gear up for conference tourneys

By David Williams
Published in Sports on February 15, 2004 2:00 AM

High School basketball's regular-season is over. The state playoffs start next week.

The meat in that basketball sandwich is called conference tournament week -- and in some cases, it has already begun.

The area's teams are all still playing for at least one more game - with one exception -- as conferences begin tournaments that could hold a surprise for anyone that can make a Cinderella's role fit.

While the seedings for the state playoffs are set for the most part, tournament week holds a special prize for the team that wins it all -- a bump up to the No. 2 state playoff seed from that conference. The rest of the seeded teams bump down a notch.

That makes for Cinderella dreams for some -- and nervous times for those who currently hold the final playoff berth.

The Class 3-A Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference has already begun its tournament by playing play-in games between the eighth-ands ninth-place teams on Friday. Goldsboro's boys knocked off Charles B. Aycock, ending the Golden Falcons season; while Southern Wayne's girls topped Washington to move on.

The Lady Saints will take on top-seeded Goldsboro on Monday at the Cougar Den in the quarterfinal round. In other quarterfinal games on Monday, Eastern Wayne will be at home to take on West Craven and Charles B. Aycock will host West Carteret.

The winners will play the semifinals at the higher seed on Wednesday, with the championship on Friday at the higher seed.

Goldsboro's boys -- who need to win the tournament to get into the playoffs -- get to travel to top-seeded Kinston, the state's top-ranked 3-A team in the ihigh.com coaches and media poll, for Tuesday's quarterfinal matchup. Eastern Wayne will be at home against South Central and Southern Wayne will face West Craven in Dudley.

The semifinals are Thursday and the finals Saturday, all at the higher-seeded team's gym. All games for both girls and boys will begin at 7 p.m.

The Eastern Plains 2-A Conference saw North Lenoir take second seeds for both the girls and boys' tournaments. Greene Central's boys, who have the final playoff spot from the EPC, are seeded fourth and the Ram girls are seeded fifth.

The EPC tournament will begin Monday at Greene Central, where the Lady Rams take on South Lenoir at 6 p.m. and the boys meet SouthWest Edgecombe. The winners there will travel to North Pitt on Wednesday, where the girls will meet top-seeded SouthWest Edgecombe and the boys take on top-seeded North Pitt.

On Thursday, the tournament switches to North Lenoir. The Hawk boys face the winner of Tuesday's game at South Lenoir between the Blue Devils and Tarboro, while the girls will match up with the North Pitt-Tarboro winner.

The stakes are higher in the EPC tournament, where North Lenoir's boys and North Pitt's boys tied for the league's regular-season title; as did North Lenoir's girls and SouthWest Edgecombe. The team that advances further in each tournament bracket will get the league's No.1 seeding for the state playoffs, and the other team will be No. 2 seed.

The tournament championships are Friday at the higher-seeded boys team.

The Carolina 1-A Conference also has an extra wrinkle in the girls' side of the bracket as Rosewood and North Johnston tied for second place. The team that advances further in the tournament will take the No. 2 playoff seed, with the other team at No. 3.

The Carolina 1-A Conference tournament begins Monday with the girls first-round games.

Spring Creek and North Duplin open play at North Johnston's gym at 6 p.m., with the Lady Panthers meeting Ayden-Grifton at 7:30 p.m.. Over at Rosewood, the Lady Eagles take on Princeton at 6 p.m.

On Tuesday, the boys begin play. Spring Creek High School plays host as Rosewood takes on North Duplin at 6 p.m. and Spring Creek hosts Princeton at 7:30 p.m. Farmville Central squares off against North Johnston in Farmville the same night.

The tournament switches to Mount Olive College for the semifinals on Thursday and championship games Friday.