With the high school girls basketball regular season winding down, Lady Longhorn coach Jen White and her players are keeping close watch on the all-important power points rankings hoping to qualify for the Section III tournament that begins Feb. 5 in Surprise.
To qualify for the section showdown, the Lady Horns must finish among the top eight in the power point rankings.
Once the section tournament tips off, it will consist of three rounds of single elimination play and the results will be used to help seed teams into the D-III “state” tournament set to begin Feb. 13 and conclude Feb. 23 at sites to be determined.
The 2013 D-III tournament format features a 24-team bracket with 12 teams — the top four from each of the three section tournaments — qualifying.
Those teams are being labeled “Automatics.”
The final 12 slots in the bracket will be filled based on divisional power point rankings.
Although there are four games remaining in the regular season (today, Jan. 25 vs. Miami; Jan. 29 vs. Fountain Hills; Jan. 30 vs. Blue Ridge and Feb. 1 vs. Show Low), Payson is in reasonably good position to qualify for the sectional tournament.
In rankings compiled at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 22, the Lady Horns were sitting fifth among the 17 teams aligned in Section III.
With a 9-4 record, PHS has a power point rating of 4.8195, which is far off the pace of the top four teams, including fourth-ranked Buckeye which has 7.2961 points.
Barring a four-game winning streak by Payson and a total collapse from Buckeye, the best the Lady Horns can do is probably a fifth place sectional seed.
Currently in S-III, Fountain Hills’ Valley Christian is second and Camp Verde third.
PHS has not played any of the top-four ranked teams in the regular season.
In D-III, PHS is ranked 18th out of 58 teams, which could be good enough to earn a state tournament spot if the Lady Horns do not earn one with a top-four sectional tournament finish.
While the power points race is a bit nerve-racking for coaches, players and fans, especially as the season winds down, the formula for success is relatively simple — win as many games as possible to move up in the rankings and stay in contention for both postseason tournaments.