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Home Sports Playoff picture takes shape as regular season winds down

Playoff picture takes shape as regular season winds down

With games remaining against Northview Academy and Pigeon Forge, Scott High (3-5) can still finish .500 on the 2019 season. But the Highlanders’ loss to rival Kingston last week has mathematically eliminated them from the playoff hunt, as the postseason picture continues to clear up.

The Region 2-3A playoff field is set, even if the seeding order isn’t. Claiming the region’s playoff berths will be Alcoa, Austin-East, Gatlinburg and Kingston — and probably in that order.

Alcoa stands alone as Region 2’s only unbeaten team, thanks to Austin-East’s 32-17 win over Gatlinburg last week. And while the Tornadoes must still face Gatlinburg (at home on October 25), the Roadrunners’ win last week removed most of the drama from the region championship hunt. Technically speaking, Gatlinburg could force a three-way tie atop the region standings by upsetting Alcoa, but most folks would consider that a long shot.

A more compelling game might be Kingston’s visit to Gatlinburg for the regular season finale on November 1. In fact, with a visit to Alcoa looming this week, the Yellowjackets aren’t mathematically eliminated from the region championship hunt. But wins against either Gatlinburg or Alcoa would be considered significant upsets.

Technically, a Pigeon Forge upset of Kingston next week — followed by a Scott High win over Pigeon Forge on November 1, as well as a Highlanders’ win over Northview Academy this week — would create a three-way tie for fourth place in Region 2-3A, and that scenario isn’t entirely far-fetched. However, TSSAA’s tiebreaker formula would ultimately hand the final playoff berth to Kingston. While the three teams would each have the same region record, at 2-4, and the head-to-head tiebreaker would not apply, the formula would move to its second step, which is the team with the greatest number of victories. In that scenario, both Scott and Kingston would be 5-5, but the best Pigeon Forge could finish would be 4-6 (and, with a game remaining against Austin-East, the Tigers would more likely be 3-7). That would eliminate Pigeon Forge, and the tiebreaker process would begin anew between Scott and Kingston, with the Yellowjackets winning the head-to-head tiebreaker.

On the opposite side of the Class 3A bracket, playoff teams from Region 1 are likely to be Chuckey-Doak, Johnson County, Unicoi County and West Greene. While Unicoi County is in the driver’s seat to claim the No. 1 seed, the rest of the seeding order is still very much in question.

In Region 2-2A, Oneida and Meigs County will determine who is No. 1 and who is No. 2 when they meet this week at Jim May Stadium, but both teams already know they will be hosting playoff games on November 8.

Meanwhile, the region’s remaining two playoff berths are up for grabs.

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Cumberland Gap has a leg up, having defeated Wartburg two weeks ago. But the Panthers can’t claim a postseason berth just yet. Wartburg and Rockwood will meet this week in Morgan County with a playoff berth on the line. Both are 0-2 in region play. If Rockwood wins, Cumberland Gap will know that it is in the playoffs, and a November 1 showdown with Rockwood will determine which team is No. 3 and which is No. 4 in the seeding order. If Wartburg wins, however, the Panthers will need to defeat the Tigers on November 1 to secure a playoff berth outright.

In a scenario that sees Wartburg defeating Rockwood this week, and Rockwood defeating Cumberland Gap on November 1, a three-way tie would be created. With the head-to-head tiebreaker tossed out, the playoff berths would likely go to Wartburg and Rockwood once the overall number of wins was factored in.

The four playoff teams from Region 1-2A will be Happy Valley, South Greene, Hampton and Sullivan North — though not necessarily in that order. A November 1 game between Happy Valley and South Greene will determine the region champion and No. 1 seed, while Hampton could play a spoiler’s role in the seeding order by upsetting South Greene this week. If that doesn’t happen, the Oneida-Meigs County winner will host Sullivan North and the loser will Hampton in the first round of the playoffs. 

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IH Staff
Contact the Independent Herald at newsroom@ihoneida.com. Follow us on Twitter, @indherald.
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