It was quite an emotional Tuesday for Richmond Academy girls coach Pat Rivers.
At 9 a.m. that morning, she lost a coin flip to Josey coach Lynn Brantley that at the time would give Class AAA No. 1 Josey the No. 1 seed in the Region 3-AAA, sub-region A tournament. As the girls No. 1 seed, Josey would play host to the girls and boys sub-region A tournament.
"I was feeling down because we lost our toss," Rivers said.
Rivers' depression would turn to shock by the afternoon when she received a call from Dr. Wayne Wiggins, the athletic director of Richmond County schools, telling her that Josey had to forfeit two games for using an ineligible player earlier in the season.
Thus, Rivers' defending Class AAA state champion Lady Musketeers will play host to the sub-region tournament that begins today with semifinal action beginning at 4 p.m. with Josey girls (20-3) taking on Laney. Richmond Academy (22-1) will play Swainsboro at 7 p.m.
"I felt bad for coach Brantley, but I was delighted to have it (the sub-region tournament) at Richmond," Rivers said.
Today's winners -- girls and boys -- will qualify for next week's Region 3-AAA tournament at the Augusta State Athletic Complex from Feb. 20-21. The losers are finished for the season.
Most observers are expecting Josey and Richmond Academy -- ranked No.1 and No.2 in the latest Class AAA girls' poll -- to meet for the girls' sub-region A title at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. It would be the team's third meeting of the season after splitting the first two games.
Rivers has warned her team not to look past today's game.
"It's tournament time now, and you don't want to mess around," Rivers said. "I've seen some strange things happen before."
In boys sub-region A, the Swainsboro vs. Richmond Academy 5:30 p.m. matchup appears to be the most competitive matchup of the four games that will be played at Richmond Academy. Regular-season champion Josey (15-7) will take on Burke County (12-10) in the nightcap at 8:30 p.m.
REGION 3-AAA, SUB-REGION B:
Thomson's girls and Glenn Hills' boys are the only teams that have clinched a spot in next week's Region 3-AAA tournament at Augusta State.
As regular season champs in sub-region B, they received byes to Saturday's championship game. Sub-region A has a play-in game between No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
Westside and Glenn Hills will meet in a girls sub-region matchup at 6 p.m., and Thomson will meet Westside at 7:30 p.m. with both games at Thomson High. Westside edged Glenn Hills 47-45 on Feb. 6. Today's winners will advance to the Region 3-AAA tournament next week.
YELLOW JACKETS CONTROL REGION:
North Augusta is in control of the boys and girls races in Region 3-AAAA.
North Augusta (17-5, 7-1 in Region 3-AAAA) leads the boys race by one game over South Aiken (17-5, 6-2), 1 1/2 games ahead of Lexington (17-3, 5-2) and 2 1/2 games ahead of Irmo (12-7, 4-3).
Yellow Jackets' coach Ron McKie already has warned his players about not looking past last-place Airport (4-15, 0-9) tonight in anticipation of Tuesday's showdown at Lexington.
"I keep telling them that the most important game is the next one no matter who you are playing," McKie said. "We have to take care of what we are doing and not worry about anybody else."
The girls race is even more muddled.
North Augusta (12-9, 6-2) and Orangeburg-Wilkinson (12-6, 6-2) are tied for first place, with Irmo (15-5, 5-2) and Lexington (12-7, 5-2) a half-game back. North Augusta's rally from an 18-point deficit to defeat Orangeburg-Wilkinson 59-58 was the difference between first and fourth in the region race.
"That was a big one," Yellow Jackets' coach Faye Norris said. "We have to thank God for that victory."
Ironically, both the North Augusta girls and boys were helped in the region race by rival Aiken, which pulled off two upsets of Lexington on Tuesday night, with the girls winning 33-31 and the boys taking a 55-51 win.
SENSE OF URGENCY:
Down by two games in the loss column, South Aiken coach Donnie Holland said his team had to defeat North Augusta to stay in the Region 3-AAAA title race.
South Aiken defeated North Augusta 60-38 on Feb. 6 and is one game behind in the standings with four games left to be played.
"All of our kids felt that," Holland said of the urgency. "If we didn't beat them here, we would have to have somebody beat them at least three times in their last six games. The odds of that happening are not very good."
Butler's boys and girls, Hephzibah's girls, and Evans' boys will have byes for the opening round of the Region 2-AAAA tournament that begins Tuesday.
The teams will play in quarterfinal action Thursday at Macon's Westside High School. In the boys bracket, Butler (19-4), as the Region 2-AAAA's East No. 1 boys' seed, will play the winner of Tuesday's play-in game between the West's No. 5 and No. 6 teams on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Evans' boys will play on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against the winner of Tuesday's matchup between the No. 3 vs. No. 8 teams from the West.
Butler and Hephzibah's girls will play Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. A coin toss will be held to determine the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds for the Region 2-AAAA tournament since the two teams tied for the sub-region regular season title.
A play-in girls game between Evans and Lakeside will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Lakeside. The play-in boys game between Hephzibah and Lakeside also will be at Lakeside at 8:30 p.m.
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