The regular season is over and area teams are now bracing for a time it has worked on all season.
East Webster's Wolverines, the Eupora Eagles and Ackerman Indians have boys and girls squads in Madison this week for the Class 2A, Region 5 Tournament.
The Wolverines and Indians will face off for the second time this season in a boys game today at 5:30 p.m. The matchup follows an earlier game that saw East Webster win 55-48.
Despite having beat Ackerman earlier in the season, Wolverines’ coach Corey Stidham knows his team is up for a challenge.
“Ackerman is a familiar foe,” Stidham said “We see each other every year. It’s going to be a tough ballgame and we have to play well, take care of the basketball, and come focused and ready to do what we have to do in order to have the opportunity to move on.”
Indians’ head coach Gary Beals feels his team is ready for the postseason as he saw marked improvement heading into the home stretch of the season.
“We are starting to improve at the end of this year,” Beals said. “This is what you want. Now we have to go down there and play good basketball.”
East Webster enters Tuesday following a 68-58 loss to Eupora, while Ackerman’s last contest was a close lost to Winona.
The winner of the game will face St. Joseph Catholic Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
In another familiar boys matchup, the Eagles of Eupora and Dragons of Pisgah will tip off.
Eupora defeat Pisgah by 30 points in the earlier meeting.
Even with the regular season victory under their belt, the Eagles are not taking anything for granted and are instead focusing on playing the best basketball possible during the tournament.
“Going into the tournament, our goals are to play solid defense and play unselfish,” said Eupora coach Bryant Thomas.
The Eagles enter postseason competition following their 64-60 defeat of West Oktibbeha on Feb. 8.
Upon conclusion of today’s competition the winner will advance to face Williams-Sullivan Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
In girls action today, the Lady Eagles of Eupora and Lady Indians of Ackerman will square off at 7 p.m.
Having faced twice during the regular season, the two teams are familiar foes, but that does not mean either team is taking this competition lightly. Instead Eupora is focusing on improving its game.
“We need to work to rebound, crash the boards better, play tougher defense and advance to next game,” Thomas said.
Ackerman’s Beals knows that anything can happen this time of the year.
“We have played Eupora twice this year and they have been real close games,” Beals said. “This time of year you need to be ready to go or the season ends.”
Once the result is determined today, the winner will advance to face Pisgah at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
Holding a nearly perfect record, the East Webster girls enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.
Due to their ranking at the top, the Lady Wolverines will have a bye during the first round of basketball action and will have to wait to learn their opponent.
East Webster does know that it will either face Madison St. Joseph or Williams-Sullivan when it does take the court Thursday night at 7 p.m.
While the Lady Wolverines are waiting to see who they will face on Thursday, East Webster coach Mandy Jewell is busy keeping her team active due to the long period between games.
“(It's a) tough week ahead,” Jewell said. “With a week and a half off after playing a game, you get worried about rust, especially at the end of the year when everybody is tired and sore.”
Following completion of Thursday’s game, the victors will advance to the championship game at 7 p.m.
Friday to face the winners coming out of the Pisgah-Eupora-Ackerman bracket, while the loser will face the loser at 4 p.m. on Friday.