The high school basketball season was always going to be fluid due to COVID-19 with last-minute cancellations and postponements. After this week’s snow shut down the schools, the fluid situation became … more fluid.
The Arkansas Activities Association announced Friday it had moved the regional and state tournaments back a week to allow conferences to finish their tournaments. This, after several leagues had already rescheduled and even canceled games to adjust to the former schedule.
For some teams, this could turn into a situation similar to the roads in a couple of days – a mess.
For El Dorado, the 5A South will still hold a conference tournament for the girls while the boys will not. The boys, instead, will finish the regular season and seed teams into the state tournament.
El Dorado’s girls were originally scheduled to host Hot Springs on Monday in the tournament. That game has been changed to Thursday at 6 p.m., at Wildcat Arena, with the winner qualifying for state.
The Wildcats’ game at Lake Hamilton on Tuesday has been changed to Wednesday at Wildcat Arena, beginning at 6 p.m. It will be one of three remaining regular season games.
“One of the girls’ teams still has seven games left to make up.
There’s no way they can make those games up in two weeks. They’re still sticking with their tournament format,” said El Dorado boys’ coach Jimmy Porter. “From a boys’ standpoint, the team that had to make up the most games was four. Since we’ve got two weeks, it’s very easy to go two games one week, two games the next week and there it is. They all voted from an AD standpoint, they talked to their coaches and voted accordingly.
“So, we have just like a conference would be year-in, year-out, your top four teams go to state, depending on record.”
The Wildcats, after Lake Hamilton, travel to White Hall and host Sheridan. El Dorado needs to win out to advance to state. Before the change, the Wildcats would’ve traveled to Lake Hamilton for one tournament game with the winner qualifying for state.
“The magic number is eight. If you can get to eight wins, mathematically, there’s no way you don’t make it in,” said Porter. “We’re 5-6. We’ve got three games left. You can do the math. We have to win the next three games to get to eight wins.”
Porter said the opportunity to finish out the regular season actually will work better for the Wildcats.
“If you’re looking at it, people would say, ‘Oh, you just have to win one game and you’re in.’ Yeah, you do but when you look at who we’ve got to play and where we get to play them. I’d much rather have a three-game stretch and this scenario,” he explained. “Lake Hamilton has to come to us. We, traditionally, play better at home. They, traditionally, shoot the ball a lot better at home. I think that will be in our favor. Same thing with Sheridan. With White Hall, obviously, we’re going to White Hall and White Hall is very capable of beating you. But I feel very confident if we come out and play our game, we can beat White Hall at White Hall. I think this three-game stretch is very doable. I don’t think you need to look at it as a three-game stretch. You need to look at it day-by-day, one game at a time.
“The other monkey wrench thrown into it is this snow. We haven’t been able to practice all week. School has been shut down and the roads aren’t cleared.”
If roads still aren’t drivable next week, the situations could become more fluid, if that’s possible.
“We’ll see how this shakes out,” said Porter. “We’ve got to find a way to get the kids up to the gym and get some practice time in. Obviously, the safety of the boys comes first.”
As for the changes voted on by the athletic directors, Porter was asked if he would’ve voted for this latest adjustment.
“Yeah, I would’ve,” he said. “Coach (Phillip) Lansdell asked me my thoughts and I told him. I said, Coach I’d rather play out the conference how the conference is supposed to be played. There’s a reason we call them conference games and I think they should count toward your record and the top four should go. Technically, that might be a little harder on us. But, like I said, I’d much rather play Lake Hamilton and Sheridan at our place and go to White Hall than go to Lake Hamilton on the road without having any practice and having to win a really tough game there.”