It’s crunch time in high school basketball.
The final week of the regular season has begun and teams around the state are battling tooth and nail for much-coveted berths into section and division tournaments.
In no school around Arizona is the hardwood war for the playoffs any more heated than it is at PHS where the girls and boys teams are eyeing ducats to the high school version of the Big Dance.
The boys team hurt its playoff chances last week with losses to St. Johns, 70-59, and Alchesay, 65-61, but could still sneak into the section tournament if it can rally for wins in the final three games of the season — today, Jan. 29 at Fountain Hills, Jan. 30 at Blue Ridge and Feb. 1 at Show Low.
As of power point rankings compiled Jan. 27, the Longhorns (6-8) were clinging to the eighth and final seed in Section III. In Division III, however, the Horns were not faring as well in the division, sitting 34th among 58 teams.
If the PHS boys can continue to hold onto the No. 8 sectional ranking, they will advance to the S-III tournament in Surprise.
The Lady Longhorns, with their 12-4 power points record, seemed destined for the postseason because they are ranked fifth in Section III and 19th in Division III.
According to Arizona Interscholastic Association rules, to qualify for the section tournament to be held Feb. 5 in Surprise, teams must finish among the top eight in power points.
Once the S-III 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 to begin Feb. 13 and concluded Feb. 23 at sites to be determined.
The tournament format features a 24-team bracket; with 12 teams, the top four from each of the three section tournaments, qualifying as automatics.
The final 12 slots in the bracket will be filled on power point rankings.
To have a legitimate shot of reaching the D-III state tournament, teams should be clutching at least a top-24 divisional power point ranking.
It is conceivable, however, a team could not make the sectional tournament, but still qualify for the division tournament