In girls play, before the postseason starts, either R-S Central or East Rutherford will play in the SMAC title game on Friday (2/19) at R-S Central. The two faced off in the SMAC semis on Wednesday for the right to play for the title.
As for the playoffs, brackets will not be released until Saturday (2/20). Based on how the brackets are done, here is what we can expect when they come out. R-S Central (22-3) should get a 2, 3 or 4 overall seed in the 2A West. They likely will have home court advantage for two if not three or four games should they keep on winning. Teja Twitty lead the Lady Hilltoppers in a number of categories and just broke the R-S Central record for points in a career at the school. She isn't only one that can hurt team. The Lady Hilltoppers are a deep team who went to the elite eight one year ago. With a suffocating defense and a high octane offense, they very well have the capability of making a run for the title. Key Players: Alina Chavez, Breyauna Lynch, Jada Logan, Aliyah Whiteside, Teja Twitty and Kyra Davis.
East Rutherford (17-7) will make the tourney, but as one of the highest wildcards in 2A. Coming in at around a 23/24 seed of 32 overall in the West, they definitely will have to go on the road. However, they are playing their best basketball at the moment. Kendra Ross just had her best game of the season against Draughn with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Guard play has been critical as of late and there would be no surprise if they make some sort of run this postseason. Chase nor Thomas Jefferson ladies will make the postseason.
As for the guys, none of them will make the SMAC Tourney finals, but two of them will make it to the postseason. Key Players to watch: Kendra Ross, Emily Elgin, Amaiya Williams, Paris Baker, Jordan Gray.
R-S Central (15-10) will make it as a high wildcard spot among the 2A teams. However, they will likely be on the road for the entire playoffs. When they are healthy, they are as good as they want to be. With wins over Kings Mountain, Shelby and East Rutherford this season, they should make things tough no matter who they play in the postseason. Key players to watch: Josh Searcy, Juwan Burnette, Zyrion Wilkins, Arnie Twitty and Jacob Knox.
East Rutherford (11-13) will join the 2A West as one of the last five teams into the field. Unfortunately, they will be on the road and play against one of the top five teams in the 2A West Playoffs. It's not been the same East team the county is accustomed to, especially with Malik Hamrick out. Still, they have lost nine of their 13 games by less than 10 points. Key players to watch: Juwan Blanton, Tyrese Carson, Brandon Bailey, and Stephen Archie.
Thomas Jefferson (10-13) is still on the 1A bubble. If they make it, they would be one of the last five in and have to be on the road as well this postseason. It's going to be awfully tough to get past round one, but they have beaten Pine Lake Prep recently. Pine Lake is a solid lock and has 16 wins so far this season. Key players: Mick Mintz, Jaylon Simmons, Nick Norris, Stephen Hargro and C.J. Moore.
NASCAR is back and so is the Daytona 500. Considering what happened in the Sprint Unlimited last week, I like the chances of a number of cautions and issues.
Logano ran well this past weekend in the Sprint Unlimited. He is the defending Daytona 500 winner, but certainly not the fan favorite. Still, I think he will be the guy to beat come Sunday. Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth round out my top five from Daytona.
Projected Points Champion: Joey Logano (wins), Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch as my top three.