And then suddenly it was the end of the high school basketball season.. It’s hard to believe but local hoops teams have between 7 and 9 regular season games left before the postseason starts. Each conference has different rules on how they qualify teams for the playoffs. I thought it was a good time to break those down and see where local teams are currently in their race for the gold ball.
1A (8-team bracket): In order to qualify, a school must have scheduled a minimum of 14 games. In 1A South, the regular season champion and the champion of the region tournament will get the automatic bids to the state tournament. If this happens to be the same team, then the other qualifier from the region will be the highest ranked team according to the AZPreps365 rankings. The top two qualifiers in 1A East will come from the region tournament. In 1A Central, 1A North and 1A West, the regular season region champion and the region tournament champion will make up the two qualifiers. However, should the region tournament champion be the same as the regular season champion, the runner-up from the region tournament will be the second automatic qualifier. The state tournament bracket will be seeded according to overall ranking of the eight (8) teams, and will consist of three rounds and will be single elimination.
- 1A: 10 automatic bids and six (6) at-large qualifiers based on ranking for the play-in round. The designated region champion, as determined by each region, will be guaranteed a top-five seed in the play-in round and seeded according to final rankings. Following the play-in round teams will be re-seeded according to final rankings.
Currently the Fort Thomas Boys are 5th, followed closely by Duncan at 8. Both of those teams should be comfortably in the postseason. On the girls side, Fort Thomas in 9th and Duncan sits in 24th, currently out of the playoffs.
The girls 1A play-in games are scheduled for February 14th, the boys February 15th.
2A (16-team bracket): In order to qualify, a school must have scheduled a minimum of 14 games. Based on the region standings or the region tournament (as determined by the region), the top two (2) teams in each region will earn an automatic bid at minimum to the conference play-in tournament. The conference play-in tournament will match up teams ranked No. 9 through No. 24. Teams ranked No. 1 through No. 8, along with the eight winning teams from the conference play-in tournament, will make up the 16-team state tournament. The state tournament bracket will be seeded according to the overall ranking of the 16 teams, and will consist of four rounds and will be single elimination.
- 2A: Eight (8) automatic bids and eight (8) conference play-in winners
The Pima Boys are sitting in 5th place and in first place in the 2A East. Thatcher is sitting at 16th and would be in the play-in round and hovering right on the line of hosting a game. Morenci sits 37th and has work to do to get into the top 24.
The girls play-in 2A games are on the calendar for February 18th, the boys February 19th.
3A (24-team bracket): In order to qualify, a school must have scheduled a minimum of 14 games. Based on region standings (except 3A Central and 3A North), the top two teams in each region will earn an automatic bid to the state tournament. 3A Central and 3A North will qualify its two teams from the region tournament. The state tournament bracket will be seeded according to the overall ranking of the 24 teams, and will consist of five rounds and will be single elimination.
- 3A: 14 automatic bids and ten (10) at-large qualifiers based on ranking
Safford boys are currently 30th and out of the top 24 but the girls are sitting 25th and just one spot out of the playoffs with 2 weeks remaining in the season.