The peninsula's high school basketball teams have one weekend left of regular season play, and while things look pretty clear at the top of the Region III/4A standings, the situation at the middle and the bottom of the standings has some exciting tournament implications.
In District 3/3A play, the Nikiski girls have the top spot wrapped up with two district games to play this weekend. The Nikiski boys have a big game tonight at Anchorage Christian Schools, though, where the Bulldogs will try to avenge the only blemish on their district record against the Lions.
The Kenai Central High School boys and girls teams have the top seeds from Region III/4A's Southern Division wrapped up for the region tournament, which starts Thursday at Skyview High School.
The Kenai boys, 13-7 overall, are 5-3 in the region with Homer a distant second at 2-6 in the region.
The Kenai girls are 17-3 overall and own a 7-1 region mark while No. 2 Soldotna is 13-7 overall and 4-4 in region play.
The Kardinals have two more region games to play, and while wins or losses won't make a difference in Kenai's seeding, the games are at Soldotna and at Homer.
If the Kenai-SoHi rivalry isn't enough to make tonight's game interesting, then the region seeding implications might be.
The Soldotna and Skyview boys are both 1-7 in region play heading into this weekend. Soldotna follows up Friday's game with a game at cross-town rival Skyview Saturday, while the Panthers visit Homer Friday.
A win by the Mariners in either of the last two games would secure a No. 2 seed for the tournament, but Skyview and Soldotna would both like to avoid finishing last in the division, the result of which is a first-round contest against Wasilla. The Warriors are 9-0 in the region.
"It'd be nice to go into regions with a three-game winning streak," said Skyview coach Dave Blossom after a good showing by the Panthers last week in Nikiski.
In the Northern Division, the Colony boys have a lock on second place with a 7-2 region mark and one game to play while Palmer and Kodiak are both 5-5 after completing their region schedules.
The Kenai girls will open the tournament against Palmer, and Soldotna is heading toward a matchup with Kodiak, but the Homer and Skyview girls both would like to dodge Wasilla (9-0 in Region III) in the opening round. Skyview sits in third place in the Southern Division at 1-7 while the Mariners are 0-8.
"I'd rather see Palmer, Colony or Kodiak," Skyview girls coach Joe Trujillo said, adding that the Panthers have been competitive with those teams this season.
Skyview could clinch a matchup with Colony (7-2 in Region III play) by defeating Homer tonight, which Trujillo said would be the Panthers' focus this week.
The Nikiski girls, 10-0 in District 3/3A play, have the top seed for next week's district tournament and the perks that go with it -- including the first-round bye.
Nikiski finishes up the regular season with a trip to Anchorage to play ACS tonight and Heritage Christian Saturday.
The Nikiski boys are 9-1 in conference play, losing to the Lions in Nikiski earlier this season. A win over ACS would draw the Bulldogs even in the standings.
Should the Bulldogs and Lions finish the regular season tied, a coin toss would determine which squad would draw the No. 1 seed and first-round bye in the district tournament.
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