Astrophysics and you: Hoops playoffs chances
OK, this is as close as the Vail Daily sports section will ever get to astrophysics.
We will now attempt to explain district basketball playoff scenarios. Seriously, I do this for a living, and I’m pretty confused — which is actually kind of normal for me.
After all, I didn’t have Battle Mountain’s or Vail Christian’s boys being any good this year, and look where they are.
I mean let’s look at where everyone is.
The ground rules of 4A districts
As we’ve discussed often, the 4A Slope merges with the 4A teams of the 5A/4A Southwestern League into an eight-team tournament weekend after next in the Grand Junction area (Central and Palisade, to be precise).
On the boys’ side — on a basic level — the top-five Slope teams automatically advance, joining some combination of Durango, Montezuma-Cortez and Montrose. On the girls’ side, the top-six Slope teams make districts with Durango and Montrose. (Cortez’s girls play 3A basketball and are not in the picture.)
In both tournaments, the top-four teams advance to the state playoffs. That seems simple enough.
Since the Southwest and Slope teams play different schedules, the district tournament uses the maxpreps.com rankings to seed the teams and determine the final qualifiers.
This sends us into a world of craziness and confusion, as we’ll see.
Where the boys stand
The following are the overall records, maxpreps.com rankings and how the boys district tournament would be seeded, if everything stopped on Thursday afternoon.
1. (District seed). Rifle (10th in maxpreps), 17-2.
2. Durango (11th), 12-6.
3. Palisade (36th), 9-10.
4. Glenwood Springs (33rd), 10-9. (League standings trump maxpreps numbers when it comes to Slope teams.)
5. Battle Mountain (43rd), 10-9. (See Glenwood Springs.)
6. Steamboat Springs (39th) 9-9.
7. Montrose (44th), 4-14.
8. Cortez (56th) 3-15.
9. Eagle Valley (60th), 5-12 (See Glenwood Springs and Battle Mountain.)
10. Delta (51st), 7-11.
11. Summit (68th), 1-16.
Here it is important to remember the phrase: Don’t shoot the messenger.
I don’t get how Montrose at 4-14 is seventh. The Indians have lost eight of their last nine, with their only win against Cortez, which, as we can see, isn’t exactly the Golden State Warriors.
Cortez’s three wins are against two New Mexico teams and 3A Centauri. Yes, Cortez plays and loses to 5A teams, but the Panthers also have losses against 3A Alamosa and Pagosa Springs and 2A Ignacio. I hear you, Gypsum — I wouldn’t put Cortez above Eagle Valley. And how is Delta ahead of the Devils in maxpreps? I seem to recall the Devils beating Delta earlier this year.
The good news is that Eagle Valley is at Delta tonight, which is big, because the Devils would put themselves past the Delta Panthers in the Slope standings for good and maybe ahead of the Cortez Panthers as well. A win at Palisade on Saturday presumably would impress the computer. Beating Summit on Monday is a must.
I don’t know what combination of wins the computer wants, so win all three, guys.
Battle Mountain is in. Go get Rifle anyway.
These are the standings if they were frozen on Thursday afternoon.
1. Durango (sixth), 13-4.
2. Montrose (seventh), 13-5.
3. Palisade (14th), 17-2
4. Rifle (22nd), 15-4
5. Eagle Valley (35th), 11-6.
6. Delta (47th), 8-10.
7. Steamboat Springs (54th), 7-11.
8. Summit County (55th), 7-10
9. Battle Mountain (63rd), 5-13
10. Glenwood Springs, (64th), 3-16.
This is a bit cleaner as Palisade lost to Montrose, 40-29, in December and the rest of the district seeding, without Cortez, is simply done by the Slope standings. Eagle Valley is pretty much locked into the fifth seed and should meet Rifle in the first round of districts.
There is still life for Battle Mountain, too. The Huskies are 3-10 in league, while the Tigers are 3-8. The Tigers were at Steamboat on Thursday, at Delta tonight and at Eagle Valley Monday.
If the Huskies can pull the upset tonight against Rifle, then they hop ahead Summit County if the Tigers run the table by losing all three of their games, not an inconceivable prospect.
It would be awfully amusing to see all of the Huskies, having upset Rifle, heading down to Gyspum on Monday to root on the Devils against Summit. (Politics and high school sports can make for strange alliances, people.)
Simplicity, thy name is 2A
By comparison, the scenarios for the local 2A squads are pretty easy … if things go as planned, which is always a lu-lu.
Vail Christian needs to beat West Grand tonight — both boys and girls.
Here are the boys Gore League standings with conference records only without the 1A squads, which go their own way for the postseason:
1.Vail Christian, 6-1.
2. Soroco, 8-1.
3. West Grand, 4-3.
4. Hayden, 0-9.
5. Vail Mountain, which joins the league as the fifth seed in the Gore by league rule.
The Saints hold the tiebreaker over Soroco, thanks to coach Sheldon Kuhns’ controversial, yet smart strategy of sitting on the ball in Vail Christian’s loss up at Oak Creek. Beat West Grand tonight and then finish with wins at North Park and DeBeque in a week, and the Saints win the Gore.
Of course we do not count our chickens before they hatch with regard to North Park and DeBeque, but the Saints have beaten those two teams by a combined 104 points already this season.
Since Vail Mountain School is the fifth seed, again by league rule, the Gore Rangers will likely draw Rangely, from the Mesa League, in a pig-tail game on Feb. 22. The winner of that game plays at the Gore League champ on Feb. 23.
Yes, boys and girls, if the Saints win tonight, that could be Vail Mountain School at Vail Christian. (If the Saints lose tonight, then they probably host Hotchkiss, while the Vail Mountain School-Rangely winner heads to Soroco.)
OK, that wasn’t a simple as I led you all to believe.
Trust me the girls’ scenario is simple.
The Gore League:
1. Soroco, 8-1.
2. West Grand, 5-2.
3. Vail Christian, 5-2.
4. Hayden, 1-7.
Tonight’s West Grand-Vail Christian winner — again, the Saints need to beat North Park and DeBeque — finishes second. The big prize for second place is playing some combination of Meeker, Hotchkiss or Hayden in the first round of districts. The loser gets either Paonia or Cedaredge, the Nos. 2 and 3 teams, respectively, in the state according to the CHSAA poll.
To all of our local teams, just win, baby.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.