Area hoops coaches are going to be driving themselves nuts this week.
Many will be cranking numbers to determine tiebreaker scenarios. Trips to the playoffs and seeding are at stake, and seeding can be the difference between a deep playoff run and a quick exit.
But for all the math, for all the head scratching to see who is going to finish where, none of it can be worked out before this weeks rivalry games are played.
Most regions wrap up their regular season with games pairing biggest region rivalries: Carolina Forest and Conway, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, St. James and Socastee, Carvers Bay and Hemingway.
That is the epitome of high school athletics, a game regardless of record that anything can go any way, said Carolina Forest coach Brian Brunson, whose team faces Conway in a playoff-loaded game on Friday. One bad call, one turnover, one missed shot thats as original and [emotional] athletics as you want.
Thats the fourth-down play inside the 5. Youve got to make it on this play. If you have to be motivated to be playing in games like that, you dont need to be playing.
The last meeting between those two on Jan. 24 was exactly what Brunson was talking about. His team made a hectic comeback, only to fall 83-81. Five players three from Carolina Forest and two from Conway finished with at least 18 points each.
When they get together on Friday, playoff implications should increase the drama even more.
Those two teams, South Florence and West Florence are going after the final two available playoff spots from Region VI-AAAA. Sumter has already clinched one of the regions three bids. Chances are, the region playoff berths will be determined by a tiebreaker system slightly different from the one many of the others around the area employ.
While most regions use a three-pronged tiebreaker that uses head-to-head record, then a points system and then a play-in game, Region VI-AAAA uses head-to-head, a region-based points system, strength of schedule and then a coin toss.
Region VII-AAA, however, includes several scenarios in the final week that could lead to a one-game playoff to determine crucial postseason seeding.
A two-team tie is broken first by head-to-head record before moving on to a points system that ranks teams from top to bottom of the region. If the numbers are still locked after that, a play-in game will be used.
The most likely scenario where that could affect the region is if both North Myrtle Beach defeats Socastee on Tuesday and Myrtle Beach beats Georgetown, followed by a Chiefs victory over the Seahawks on Thursday. That would mean both teams would be 9-1 in region play.
They would meet Friday on a neutral court in a one-game play-in, with the winner of that game owning the No. 1 playoff seed and the loser getting the No. 2 seed.
Similarly, if Socastee defeats North Myrtle Beach and St. James, and North Myrtle Beach falls against Myrtle Beach, a play-in game would be necessary to determine if Socastee or North Myrtle Beach is at home in the first round of the playoffs while the loser of the play-in game would be on the road. Both North Myrtle Beach and Socastee have already clinched postseason berths.
The Myrtle Beach and Carvers Bay boys and girls teams had also already secured tickets to the postseason prior to the start of the final week of the regular season.
For updated region standings and playoff scenarios throughout the week, visit the Prep Talk blog at MyrtleBeachOnline.com.
Carolina Forest coach heading back to Conway
Will Bratcher spent the last two and a half months splitting time between Carolina Forest and Conway.
Soon, hell be able to concentrate solely on one school.
The third-year Panthers wrestling coach and football assistant will officially resign his coaching positions at the end of the wrestling season in a move that was set in motion late last year. Bratcher accepted a full-time special education teaching position at Conway.
Soon, hell join the football and track staffs at Conway, the school he graduated from in 2000.
I wanted to stay loyal to the kids and not leave them without a coach, Bratcher said of the Carolina Forest wrestling team. I thought that was the right thing to do.
Bratcher, who played at Charleston Southern, was a North-South All-Star selection at left tackle for the Tigers in 1999. Hell be rejoining Conway coach Chuck Jordan, as well as a number of assistants who were on staff while he was in high school.
Its always great to have an opportunity to come back home, Bratcher said. Hes a well-respected coach. Hes always been really good to me. Its an honor to come back and coach for a guy like him.
Said Jordan: Will was a hard-working, tough-nosed player, and I would expect no different from him as a coach.
Bratcher was hired at Carolina Forest in 2010. He served as the wrestling coach for the duration of his time there. His team set the school record for wins in a season (26) last year and had 57 total victories in the last three years. The Panthers finished second in Region VI-AAAA this season and qualified for the Class AAAA state wrestling duals. Carolina Forest was defeated by Dutch Fork in the first round this weekend. Bratcher will continue to coach the Panthers throughout the conclusion of the individual state tournament.
For the football team, he coached the running backs his first season, working with current South Carolina State tailback Harold Atkinson, before moving to the offensive line each of the last two years.
He completed his teaching certification in the fall and started his new job at Conway on Dec. 5. Bratchers wife, Leigh Ann, is already a teacher at Conway.
Former Socastee AD earns national honor
Roger Dixon retired from Socastee in 2012. But hes still being recognized for contributions he made at that school and a number of others he was involved with in North Carolina.
Dixon was honored in December by the National Federation of State High Schools for his contribution at the local, state and national level. He was one of eight administrators named for the 2013 award. In many ways, what hes done since handing off the reigns to David Bennett and then Tim Renfrow at Socastee is the reason he received the award.
Young guys typically dont get into that traditionally. But we try to encourage younger guys to get involved, Dixon said. Its really rewarding that your peers see you at a level that you can be recognized nationally. Were trying to follow in the older guys footsteps to make sure we keep the younger guys [involved].
After Dixon resigned, he re-joined forces with a number of athletics directors, including North Myrtle Beachs Joe Quigley, crafting a handbook for first-time and young athletics directors. The goal was to prepare them for what lie ahead.
And, more importantly, add some consistency to the field.
Some athletics director positions are more demanding than others. The time commitments Dixon said he regularly put in 60-75 hours per week in his nine years at Socastee can at times be nothing short of grueling.
Many athletics directors are also coaching a sport or assisting with others.
The biggest thing is that you can continue to do this type of job from the mental side of this job until you lose your memory. But the physical wear and tear on your body is the bigger aspect, said Dixon, who has had a hip and knee replaced. A lot of those hours, that was probably the biggest reason I got out. Physically, it got to the point where I couldnt function like I could five or six years ago.
Dixons contributions at Socastee helped craft one of the best three-year spans in school history before and after his departure. The football team is coming off a pair of 12-1 seasons. The cross country, wrestling, baseball and softball teams have both made deep postseason runs in the last several years. The boys tennis team won the Class AAA state title in 2013.
Dixon has also remained involved at the state level in both South Carolina and North Carolina, where he worked for the first 31 years of his career. He was inducted in the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association Hall of Fame in 2004 and he was twice named the Class AAA Athletic Director of the Year in South Carolina.
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com.