They could have just flipped a coin.
The race for the seeds in the Heritage Conference girls’ basketball standings is coming down to the final games of the season because the events of the weekend created a scenario in which the top three teams could each have three losses. On Saturday, United pounded West Shamokin, 57-27, and Homer-Center lost to Blairsville, 63-47, creating the potential for the three-way tie.
So, tonight, United visits West Shamokin, the place where no one but the home team likes to play, for a back-to-back while Homer-Center visits Purchase Line.
If West Shamokin (15-2, 13-2) beats United (13-3, 11-3), no problem: The Wolves are first, Homer-Center (13-4, 12-3) second and United third.
If United and Homer-Center win tonight, the Lions, Wildcats and West Shamokin each have three losses. That means United will have swept West Shamokin. West Shamokin already has a sweep of Homer-Center, and the Wildcats have swept United.
West Shamokin’s other loss came to fourth-place Penns Manor (12-5, 9-5), the defending conference champion; Homer-Center lost to Blairsville (6-7, 6-7); and United lost to Marion Center (5-11, 5-9).
So who finishes where if the scenario becomes reality? The conference released standings on Sunday afternoon but offered no explanation for a tiebreaker in the event of a three-way tie.
One thing is certain: There will be boys and girls semifinals Thursday and championship games Saturday, weather permitting, of course, on the home courts of the highest seeds, whomever they might be.
United is looking for a repeat performance of Saturday after romping past West Shamokin at home.
“It’s different out there,” United coach Paul Hall said. “That one area is open behind the one basket so you have to adjust to that, and that’s when you’re shooting in the second half. But if we play like we played (Saturday), we should be fine. We just have to keep the defense going, and the offense will feed off that.”
West Shamokin coach Frank Nagy agreed with that.
“If they continue playing like that,” he said, “it’s going to be tough sledding for anybody.”
In the boys’ standings, meanwhile, pairings are nearly set. West Shamokin 17-0, 15-0) is the top seed. Second is open between United (15-3, 12-2) and Penns Manor (11-4, 10-4), with the Lions holding the upper hand. United plays host to West Shamokin tonight and plays Saltsburg on Tuesday needing one win to sew up second.
Fourth place is up for grabs between Saltsburg (6-7, 6-7) and Marion Center (9-8, 8-7), with the Stingers having completed their schedule and holding the upper hand because the Trojans need wins over Penns Manor and United.
The most likely scenario has Marion Center playing at West Shamokin and Penns Manor playing at United in Thursday’s semifinals, which were moved back one day last week to open up one additional playing date in the regular season.
Whatever the case, a new team will emerge as the champion with Ligonier Valley having departed for the WPIAL after last year school year.