Last year the Rogers Pirates needed an extra game to sneak into the District 8 boys basketball tournament as one of the Greater Spokane League’s top six teams.
Tonight, as the Pirates close out the regular season, they can eliminate all doubt with a win when North Central visits Rogers.
A win would give the Pirates (6-9, 7-9) a two-game edge for sixth place with one game remaining for the other teams in the chase.
Of course, if NC wins, the Indians (4-10, 6-12) would still have a chance, along with the winner of tonight’s Shadle Park-University game. Both are also 4-10.
NC plays at Rogers at 6:15, the same time Shadle Park is at University.
If Rogers wins, it would be the first time since 1978 the Pirates made the league playoffs without being forced to win a tiebreaker game. Besides tying for sixth last year, Rogers tied for sixth in 1986 and 1979. It was second in in 1978 and third in 1977.
The other boys race is for second place and an automatic berth in the regional tournament. Lewis and Clark (9-5, 12-6) and Gonzaga Prep (9-5, 11-7) are tied for second, a game ahead of Ferris (8-6, 11-7).
Ferris plays at Prep tonight at 6:15, LC plays Mead at the Coliseum at 7:45. Central Valley (8-7, 10-9) has the bye.
Mead (12-2, 14-4) clinched the title Friday.
CV has bigger concerns than finishing second. The Bears lost 6-foot-7 Geoff Courchaine, the starting center with an 11.0 average, with a broken ankle in their loss at Rogers on Friday. CV lost forward Jeff Allen to a broken ankle back in December.
When the league season ends Thursday night, Ferris is at University, CV is at Prep, NC is at LC and Shadle Park plays Mead at the Coliseum.
The Coliseum will be the place to be on Thursday because second-ranked Mead plays fifth-ranked Shadle Park to determine the girls championship.
Mead (14-0, 18-0) and Shadle Park (13-1, 15-3) have clinched the top two spots and regional berths. In the first meeting, the Panthers won 54-45.
Ferris (10-4, 14-4) has secured third place, but University (8-6, 11-7), Central Valley (8-7, 9-10) and Gonzaga Prep 7-7, 10-8) are battling for position behind the Saxons.
When the district tournament begins next week, No. 3 plays No. 6 and No. 4 plays No. 5, losers out. The winners join the top two teams in seeding games for regionals.
In the boys scoring race, LC’s Paul Menke leads Shadle’s Rob Debeaumont by 17 points. Mead’s Jason Smith is 29 points back.
Kelly Bartleson of Shadle has an 11-point edge on Emily Ireland of Ferris. Mead’s Stacy Clinesmith is 18 behind Bartleson.