November 5, 2004

Highland — not Hamilton, Chandler or Gilbert — winning the Fiesta Region title? Mountain View not qualifying for the playoffs? Corona del Sol and Phoenix Maryvale missing the playoffs despite each winning seven games? Pinnacle hanging on to make the playoffs after a rough ride the second half of the season?

The drive for the 5A and 4A conference playoffs comes to a conclusion tonight when we could see some of the aforementioned scenarios unfold.

As usual, it will be a maddening couple of hours after games for bubble teams and those simply waiting to find out what seed they will get in the state playoff field.

‘‘It’s crazy with all the different games. You don’t have any idea who you are going to get matched up with,’’ said Hamilton coach John Wrenn, who has the luxury of knowing the Huskies have qualified for the playoffs win or lose this week.

A school as high as ninth presently in the power rankings in 5A (Marana Mountain View) could miss the playoffs with a loss. A final power point ranking of 60.00 or higher likely will be needed to assure a nonregion champ a spot in the playoffs.

With all that said, here is how the 5A race shapes up: Westwood and Red Mountain, who kicked off the final week of play Thursday night, have qualified and one of them will emerge as East Valley Region champ. Also already qualified are Paradise Valley (Desert Valley Region champ), Hamilton, Chandler, Peoria, Phoenix Brophy and Phoenix North (Metro Region champ) regardless of their outcomes tonight.

Teams that could fall out of the playoffs with a loss are No. 10 seed Phoenix Maryvale (vs. Glendale Mountain Ridge) and No. 9 seed Marana Mountain View (vs. Tucson Salpointe).

Another twist involves Mountain View, currently 12th in the power point rankings. The Toros have qualified for the state playoffs 19 straight years. If the Toros win they qualify comfortably. If they lose to Mesa High, their long playoff run could end since Mountain View’s final power index would be around the borderline 60-point mark.

Five of the eight region titles are still up for grabs in 5A. In an all-or-nothing game, Corona del Sol plays Desert Vista. The winner is the Central Region champ and automatically qualifies for the playoffs, even if it is not in the top 16 in power point rankings (the worst seed that is not a region champ would get bumped from the 16-team field). The Corona-Desert Vista loser goes home.

In four of the five region races that are not already decided, the top two teams vying for the region title face each other tonight — Corona del Sol at Desert Vista (Central); Glendale Ironwood at Peoria (Desert West); Glendale Mountain Ridge at Phoenix Maryvale (Northwest) and Marana Mountain View at Tucson Salpointe (Southern). In the fifth, Highland needs only to beat 1-8 Casa Grande to win the Fiesta Region title and clinch a berth.

The local 4A playoff picture will include Saguaro (No. 6) and Chaparral (tied for ninth) regardless of the outcomes of their games tonight with Tempe and Arcadia, respectively.

The bubble teams are No. 13 McClintock and No. 15 Pinnacle. McClintock likely qualifies by beating 1-8 Phoenix Washington but could drop out with an upset loss. Pinnacle is locked in a fourway tie at No. 15 with Flagstaff Coconino, Avondale Agua Fria and Goodyear Millennium. The Pioneers must beat 3-6 Phoenix Shadow Mountain to remain in the hunt. Given that Agua Fria and Millennium meet to decide the West Valley Region title and Coconino is playing highly ranked Flagstaff for the Grand Canyon title, those scenarios favor Pinnacle since two of the three teams tied with the Pioneers are likely to lose.

Still, it’s possible teams below Pinnacle that win could pass Pinnacle if circumstances are right. Bottom line for Pinnacle and McClintock is winning gives them a chance to join Saguaro and Chaparral in the playoffs.

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