Eastern Wake: Sports

High schools hustle to finish winter seasons, start up spring slates

This will be a busy week (hopefully) for high school basketball players and wrestlers. With the snow and ice wiping out nearly every athletic activity last Tuesday through Friday, basketball teams are in a hurry to finish up the regular season schedule and squeeze in their conference tournaments before the calendar hits Feb. 21.

The Two Rivers 3A Conference planned to play its games moved from Feb. 11 on Saturday afternoon, then play its Feb. 14 games on Monday, Feb. 17.

The conference tournament, which gives every team regardless of its record a path into the state playoffs, could begin Feb. 18 and run through Feb. 21. (Any team that wins the conference tournament is guaranteed a state playoff berth, regardless of where it finished in the regular-season standings.)

That will mean playing boys and girls early round games on the same nights, likely, which the Carolina 1A Conference planned to do as well.

The Greater Neuse River 4A Conference canceled its tournament since a few teams had three regular season games still to play between Feb. 15-21. So teams like East Wake and Knightdale will make up their games from last week on a somewhat more normal schedule this week.

East Wake and Southeast Raleigh are the only teams facing three games this week. The Warriors play at Harnett Central Monday (Feb. 17) and at home against Southeast Tuesday (Feb. 18). They conclude the regular season Thursday (Feb. 20) as they host varsity-only games against Knightdale, with girls starting at 5:30 and boys at 7.

Conference basketball tournaments are important to the overall financial picture for all conferences. In some cases the gate receipts from those tournaments make up as much as half of a conferences budget in a given year.

Of course, safety of student-athletes and fans comes first in the decisions conference leaders are making but getting the tournaments played is important for several reasons.

Wrestling individual state championships are set to run from Feb. 20-22.

If athletic programs at area schools didn’t have enough to figure out, spring sports practices had been scheduled to begin on Feb. 12.

Several teams had scrimmages scheduled for Feb. 18 or 19. Those will be hard to pull off now in some cases. It’ll be a rush to get ready for the start of the official spring season on Feb. 26.