When the state basketball brackets are released on Sunday afternoon some of the teams — the ones earning the top seeds — played a game the night before.
Then there are the teams that will end up with a double-digit seed by their name, and there is a good possibility those squads haven’t seen another opponent since Feb. 6.
There could be as much of a layoff as two weeks in between the final regular season game and the start of the state tournament.
Clearly, the better seeds are more game ready, while the downtime for the other teams is all about what they make of it. It’s a chance to work on things, heal up, and rest the legs a little after a furious end to the regular season.
Desert Vista girls played without McDonald All-American Kristine Anigwe for a few weeks, but were able to get her back in the rotation during sectionals rather than waiting for the state tournament to work out the kinks.
Then there is a team like the Dobson girls squad that came into the Division I Super Sectional as a top seed and a state favorite, only to lose 48-44 to Ironwood in the first round.
“After we got upset we need the rest and recovery time, plus we need to work on some stuff,” Mustang coach Tyler Dumas said. “If we were still playing I’d say that it was good for us because of the level of competition that we would get this close to the playoffs.”
Dumas was on the committee that came up with the Super Sectional and saw his section — DI, Section I — all lose in the first round.
“I’ll be interested to see what happened since our entire section lost how that’s going to affect power point,” he said, “but I think the cross-sectional play is important because it shows you whose section is stronger and reseeds the state tournament.”
The players are willing to play anytime, any place. They love the game and play when the ball goes up they don’t care whether it is a sectional game, in the state tournament, or intrasquad scrimmage.
“To us, it’s just a different setup, but we all have the same goal and that is to win games,” Desert Vista senior Sabrina Haines said. “When we lost to Mesquite last year (in the sectional finals), it really helped motivate us to work harder and improve on the things that we needed to improve on. This year, we are determined to not make the same mistakes. We are excited for what is to come.”
In the 2011-12 season, Mountain Pointe girls lost to Boulder Creek in the first-round of sectionals and then came back and beat the Jaguars in the first-round of the state tournament.
The little glimpse a week before gave the Pride some information and how to handle a second meeting.
This time around Mountain Pointe didn’t qualify, but the Pride is still in line to make the 24-team field. The team is in a solid position of No. 19 as of Wednesday, but the teams sitting in the 23 through 26 spots are in a bit of a limbo.
Those programs have practiced all week, but it might be all for naught if certain teams lose and their power ranking falls outside of the top 24.
“We didn’t make it this year so this week has been slow,” Pride coach Trevor Neider said. “We have a day off and time to work on things, but we had a routine of two or three games a week for the last month and now we have 12 days off. The season is long enough. If coaches want or need tougher games they have that option with freedom games and tournaments.”
There are those who feel the Division I sectional format, which is different than the rest of the state, takes away from the regular season.
“I do believe it is good to keep playing to keep your competitive edge which gets you ready for state, that is why we will show up and play hard,” Corona del Sol boys coach Sam Duane Jr. said. “But I do not feel sectionals rewards you for your whole body of work during the season. To play a whole season and then base top 4 seeds on sectionals is not right. Some teams cannot gain or lose any ground (in the power rankings) by playing or losing or not playing at all.
“Teams that are in top 4 have a lot to lose and nothing to gain, and that basically lessens your regular season games.”
Lessened or not, it is over and it’s time for the final stage of the season to begin.
“We’ve had a lot of time off,” Neider said. “Hopefully, we are not rusty and they’ll be ready to go.”
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