SMAC tournament set
The regular season of prep basketball has come to a close and now it's tournament time. County teams have played their way to potential state playoff births, but starting Monday night, records no longer matter.
The South Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament kicks off Monday night with first-round action. Both Chase teams will travel to R-S Central as the No. 4 seed Hilltoppers boys host the No. 5 seed Trojans. Tipoff is set for 7:30p.m.
"The guys are rejuvenated a little bit with a few days off to get refocused," Central head coach Greg Wright said. "The guys are excited about the conference tournament."
The Hilltopper have already beaten the Trojans twice this season, but Chase seems to be finding a rhythm in recent games.
"Coach [Joe] Jessen has done a great job with those kids this year," Wright said about the Trojans. "They definitely have a size advantage on us so their rebounding is major concern for me on Monday night."
Chase played one of their toughest games of the season Friday night against East Rutherford. They led 26-9 after the first quarter but eventually fell to the Cavs 73-56.
"A showing like that gives us a lot of confidence going into the tournament," Jessen said after Friday's loss. "After a game like this we think we can certainly move on to the semifinals."
The Lady Hilltoppers hold the No. 2 seed in the girl brackets and host the No. 7 Lady Trojans at 6 p.m.
"I think Chase will come in ready," Central head coach Darius Fuller said. "We've had some good practices and got our legs under us with a couple days off so we're looking for a strong run.
I think Chase's senior leadership will play a big part for them but that's the same push I'm making with my girls. My seniors know this is their last go."
The East Rutherford boys claimed the overall No. 2 seed and host the seventh-seeded Burns Bulldogs Monday night at 7 p.m. in Forest City.
"The best teams are playing their best basketball this time of year so hopefully we can string together a few good games in a row," East head coach Brad Levine said. "Even against a team with a lesser record you still have to come out and play well."
The Cavs are dealing with injuries to starters Roddric Ross (eye) and Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez (finger).
"Hopefully we can get healthy after the first game," Levine said. "We may just play them sparingly if we can just to keep the rust off. If we can pull them out with a good lead that would be ideal. We need to keep everything reserved if possible for later in the week ... if we can jump out to an early lead I think it's no question that we'll pull back a little bit and let some other kids play."
The third-seeded Lady Cavaliers will play their first-round game Tuesday night as they host No. 6 Burn lady Bulldogs for a 7 p.m. start time.
Conference tournament glance
No. 5 Shelby (4-16) at No. 4 Patton (17-7); Tuesday, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Burns (3-16) at No. 3 East Rutherford (15-7); Tuesday, 7 p.m.
No. 7 Chase (3-19) at No. 2 R-S Central (15-9); Monday, 6 p.m.
Shelby/Patton winner at No. 1 Freedom (20-3); Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Burns/ER winner vs. Chase/R-S winner; Thursday, 6 p.m. (at Freedom)
Semifinal winners; Friday, 6 p.m. (at highest boys seed remaining)
No. 5 Chase (11-11) at No. 4 R-S Central (12-12); Monday, 7:30 p.m.
No. 6 Patton (7-17) at No. 3 Freedom (19-4); Monday, 7 p.m.
No. 7 Burns (1-21) at No. 2 East Rutherford (18-5); Monday, 7 p.m.
Chase/R-S winner at No. 1 Shelby (21-3); Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Patton/Freedom winner vs. Burns/ER winner; Wednesday, 6 p.m. (at Shelby)
Semifinal winners; Friday, 7:30 p.m. (at highest boys seed remaining)