Prairie Grove’s 59-56 upset win over Pea Ridge on Tuesday caused Wednesday’s seeding meeting for next week’s 4A-1 Conference tournament to run much longer than usual.
Coaches and athletic directors representing all eight teams met at Shiloh Christian because of the school’s central location. But the Saints benefited the least from hosting the two-plus hour meeting. They were tied for fourth in the conference with a 10-7 district record, but ended up the No. 6 seed. They will open the tourney against third-seeded Gravette, a tough draw for either team.
Sources inside the meeting said coaches voted on seedings and athletic directors then met to decide if Friday’s games would factor in. Athletic directors ruled Friday’s games would not count toward seedings, so those conference games are essentially meaningless.
Prairie Grove’s Tuesday victory caused the stir because it not only decided the top seed, it also forged a three-way tie for fourth place between the Tigers (11-13 overall, 10-7 in district play), Gentry (12-9, 10-7) and Shiloh Christian (14-10, 10-7).
Because of the Tigers’ big upset, coaches voted them in at No. 4.
Shiloh Christian wraps up the regular season at Gentry on Friday, so the fifth-seed could have been decided on the court if athletic directors hadn’t upheld the rule to finalize seedings today instead of waiting until after Friday’s games.
That said, regardless of what happens Friday, Prairie Grove will open the tournament against Gentry.
Huntsville (23-2, 9-0) is the No. 1 seed after beating Berryville 50-41 on Tuesday. It was the Eagles 10th straight win. They will play eighth-seeded Lincoln in the first round of next week’s conference tournament.
Pea Ridge (23-2, 16-1) is the No. 2 seed and will open against seventh-seeded Berryville (5-6, 2-13). With the Bobcats hosting, that becomes an interesting opening game as well because the Blackhawks have struggled playing at Berryville in past seasons.
The Blackhawks were undefeated in district play before Tuesday’s loss, so most figured Monday’s biggest debate during the meeting would have been over the No. 1 seed instead of the 4-6 seeds. But Prairie Grove’s win Tuesday made that a much simpler decision.
The tourney begins on Monday in Berryville. In past seasons, the top seeds received byes and were automatically guaranteed a spot in the regionals. This season, there are no byes and no guarantees for a regional birth. Win, and they’re in, as the top four teams out of the conference will earn a spot in regionals.