By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
The Wyoming Valley Conference pushed back its first basketball semifinals one day and decided to wait before finalizing its girls wild-card selection during a conference call among tournament officials Sunday.
The girls semifinals will be played Thursday at Holy Redeemer and the boys semifinals will be Friday at Dallas. The first Wyoming Valley Conference tournament titles will then be decided Saturday in a girls-boys doubleheader at Hazleton Area.
The move in dates gives the WVC more flexibility if the planned Tuesday boys divisional playoffs are disrupted by weather and it also gives more time for teams to complete make-up games to factor those results into an extremely close ratings race for the girls wild-card berth.
King’s College’s Scandlon Gymnasium is set to serve as host site for a boys division playoff doubleheader Tuesday, but is unavailable Wednesday if weather conditions make playing that doubleheader Tuesday impossible.
Hazleton Area athletic director Fred Barletta, a member of the tournament committee and one of the leaders in the push to get the basketball playoffs added, said pushing the semifinals back now is helpful in case there need to be changes from Tuesday to Wednesday.
“Those of us who have been fighting for this, we want to make this happen,” Barletta said in an interview prior to Saturday night’s Hazleton Area-Dallas boys game as he discussed arrangements up to that point.
Berwick (18-4) and Lake-Lehman (17-5) have each completed their girls seasons with 14-3 conference records to tie for second place in Division 2.
The conference playoff format calls for the four-team field to consist of three division champions and a wild-card team, which is determined by the best District 2 playoff rating.
With six WVC games still to be made up, Berwick has a .697311 rating and Lake-Lehman has a .696190 rating in the complex formula which combines a team’s results with the records of its opponents.
Results of other games potentially can impact a team’s rating because they involve a team’s opponents, including those outside of the WVC.
Barletta said an absolute cutoff for what games will be included in the ratings has not been determined.
That would be an issue for the committee if more games are postponed early this week.
The girls semifinals will open with Division 1 champion Hazleton Area playing either Berwick or Lake-Lehman Thursday at 6 in the doubleheader at Holy Redeemer. The host Lady Royals, champions of Division 2, would play Division 3 champion Wyoming Seminary at 7:30.
The boys semifinals are Friday, also with 6 and 7:30 starts.
Pairings are in limbo until the division playoffs can be held to break first-place ties.
If Hazleton Area wins Division 1, there is a close wild-card ratings race between Crestwood and Holy Redeemer.
If Crestwood wins Division 1, it appears that Holy Redeemer will be the wild card and Hazleton Area will be eliminated.
The loser of the GAR-Nanticoke Division 2 title game will be eliminated from conference playoff consideration.
Wyoming Seminary is the only team certain of being in. The Blue Knights got there by clinching Division 3 with Saturday night’s 56-32 victory over Hanover Area.
They will also be the top seed with the best conference record.
The WVC championship games are scheduled for a Saturday doubleheader at Hazleton Area with the girls at 6 and the boys at 7:30.