It is a year for the history books. A team finishes undefeated in conference play, but will not enter the post-season conference tournament as the top seed in the conference. And if that was not enough to consider, consider the fact that an undefeated and tournament #2 seed Paris will now potentially have to play the team that was given the #1 seed…again…on their home court. But like I said in my last article, that is a story for another time. As soon as district tournament brackets are released, Resident Press will publish them for our readers.
Paris traveled to West Fork on Thursday night and made short work of the Lady Tigers in their final regular season conference game. The Lady Eagles completed an undefeated regular season conference schedule by defeating West Fork 3-0. As has been reported at length by now, the Lady Eagles have been penalized by not being able to play missed games due to the team being forced into COVID quarantine. Paris lost the top seed in the district tournament due to circumstances beyond their control, and now, it appears that they have more than likely lost the opportunity to play the top seeds in the district tournament on a neutral site.
The district tournament, originally scheduled to be played at Booneville High School, has now been divided among different sites within the conference to reduce the risk of COVID transmission. Rather than multiple schools and their players and fans coming to one place from all around the region, the tournament is being physically divided into games that will be played at different sites. Information is sketchy at this time, and Resident Press hopes to have this clarified by the weekend, but it is being discussed that the top seed will hold the home court advantage in the tournament. If that is true, it is possible that Paris will have to go to Hackett to play in the tournament finals. Paris played the Lady Hornets at Hackett earlier in the year and defeated the Lady Hornets. The return match in Paris was never played, and due to what appears to be a questionable format to this year’s tournament seedings and game sites, Paris will once again have to play Hackett on their home court.
If Paris ends up playing in the finals at Hackett, it should be noted to everyone that these are tournament games, not home games for the teams in the tournament. Much like the collegiate NCAA basketball tournament, games are played at school campuses around the country, but they are considered neutral during the tournament, and are no longer home courts, but host sites for the tournament. If this is truly the case, then all factors concerning the games should be managed according to tournament protocol and procedures, such as both schools being allotted equal numbers of tickets, and not one school making a decision to limit the visiting schools’ tickets to favor their own fans. In fact, a conference chairperson and his or her subordinates should monitor each site to make sure all teams and their fans are treated fairly. Just my opinion, but it seems to be common sense to me that is consistent with other championship tournaments.
Again, once firm information about all of these issues is known, Resident Press will report them for our readers. Stay tuned folks.
On a positive note, Paris appears to be hitting their stride and regaining the lost momentum due to the unexpected layoff. Now that the season has been completed, the Lady Eagles will make a quick trip to Hot Springs on Saturday afternoon to play the Class 4A Fountain Lake Lady Cobras in a varsity only, non-conference match. It should be a great match that is highly competitive and will be a good warm-up for the Lady Eagles as they prepare for the district tournament next week. On Thursday night, there did not seem to be a lot of nonsense in the Lady Eagles’ game, just pure domination to complete the sweep of West Fork and to take one more step in their preparation for post-season play.
So stay with Resident Press as all of this continues to unfold in the wild, wild, 3A West. A lot can happen between today and next Friday…by the end of next week, we will know state seeds from the 3A West that will be playing in the state tournament. From a players’ perspective, the fatigue that goes with a long season is now down to two critical weeks. Every potential playoff team in every conference across the state is just two weeks away from possibly playing for and being crowned as a state champion.
There promises to be a lot of fireworks over the next two weeks before we have a 3A state champion, and Resident Press will be there all the way to bring you all of booms, bangs, and spectacular images of what is the great sport of championship high school volleyball!
Additional pictures of the Lady Eagles victory at West Fork will be posted on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports by Friday afternoon. I hope you enjoy them, and I will see you Saturday in Hot Springs!