District 6 basketball playoff fields taking shape

Commentary

The cutoff date for the District 6 playoffs is Feb. 12, but most of the teams are going to have most if not all of their games in by the end of this week, so the qualifying teams and the seeding already are assuming their final form.

And District 6 has its point standings up on its basketball website this year, which makes it even easier to see where things stand.

Right now, from the Mirror coverage area, the Huntingdon boys, the Bishop Guilfoyle boys, the Central girls and the Bishop Carroll boys and girls all are leading the way to be top seeds in their respective classifications. The BG boys need to get back on the winning track this week, because the Marauders are getting pushed hard by Purchase Line of the Heritage Conference in Class 2A.

The Carroll boys are in a very close race with Juniata Valley, Blacklick Valley and Saint Joseph’s in 1A.

Despite having great seasons, the Altoona, Bellwood-Antis and Juniata Valley girls all have some ground to gain and will need a little help to get the top seeds, even if they could make a credible claim to being the team to beat in their brackets. Those teams are victims of playing schedules with too many smaller schools on them and are paying the price for it.

Altoona’s wins over Bellwood and Valley pass the look test, but a calculator only sees the Lady Devils and Lady Hornets as 2A and 1A teams. Meanwhile, Mifflin County’s schedule is almost exclusively 6A and 5A opponents. Bellwood and Valley’s gaudy records don’t matter, because District 6 did away with the .700-record bonus-point adjustment this year.

The Lady Lions conceivably could rout Mifflin County at the AAHS Fieldhouse on Saturday and still wind up seeded lower than the Lady Huskies.

Of course, all the teams mentioned above already are qualified for the postseason and likely will advance to the state tournament. More pressing matters exist for squads just hoping to make it into the tournament, since D6 began a closed bracket last year.

On the boys side, Williamsburg, Claysburg-Kimmel, Portage and Penn Cambria are right on the edge entering this week, although the Blue Pirates would be in if the cutoff was today, and they have a slight bit of breathing room. In girls, Glendale, Cambria Heights and Chestnut Ridge are right at the cut.

Of course, some of those teams might not enter. Glendale, for instance, has a .500-win rule that it cited for not entering the district football playoffs. With three wins, the school might not want to see the Lady Vikings join the postseason for an opening-round game with a state-championship contender like Carroll or Juniata Valley.

A similar decision would need to be made with Claysburg and Portage boys.

Just taking a look at the standings, the Class 3A girls field is extremely robust, and the Class 2A girls and Class 4A boys have a lot to offer fans — the quarterfinals of each of those latter two brackets will be the end point of the season for some very, very good teams.

Speaking officially

Altoona fans were upset about a call in Friday’s boys basketball game at Hollidaysburg.

It was justified. In the third quarter, the Mountain Lions, to this reporter’s eyes, fouled Michael Day near but away from the ball in a one-and-one situation, but Ethan Haupt, one of the area’s best shooters, wound up going to the line to take the free throws. As one might expect, he made both.

The ball was in Haupt’s hands when the foul occurred, and Haupt wears No. 4, while Day wears No. 5, which might have added to the confusion. It didn’t make matters any better that Altoona came back and only lost the game by three points.

Being upset had merit, but fans in general also should keep things in perspective. Just like these are high school players and high school coaches, these are high school officials. They aren’t mistake-proof, and none of them are making livings off these games.

And here’s something to remember: We need these people. The players need these people.

If you don’t have officials, you don’t have games.

One might think humans in striped shirts magically appear from the Land of Zebras, but you actually have to have the desire to go through a process to do this. How many people do you know that want to do anything that’s usually going to get them yelled at for 90 minutes no matter how they perform? Taking out frustrations isn’t the sport you paid to attend, and it’s not adding incentive for refs.

This reporter has seen at least three games in the last three weeks in which the varsity crew also called the junior varsity or junior high game preceding it; I’ve seldom witnessed that before. What does that tell you about the number of people getting into officiating?

Some fans questioned the capabilities of the refs who did the Altoona/Hollidaysburg boys game, but all three have handled PIAA finals in the last two seasons. They are proven officials with strong resumes.

But here’s a suggestion: If you care enough about the kids getting shortchanged to lose your mind over a missed call, pick up a whistle, take a course and become an official yourself, so those kids about whom you are so worried actually have organized games to play.

Cmor can be reached at pcmor@altoonamirror.com or 946-7440.

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