It’s crunch time.
A handful of games separate us from the Mid-Penn Tournament and then District 3 playoffs.
A couple teams have already cemented their position in one or both. Some are already out of the running. Still others are fighting for their survival.
All of the key games this week will have some sort of major implications on the playoff scene. These are my best guesses as to what can still change the fortune for better or worse for the Sentinel-area schools still fighting to win their division or secure a spot in the postseason.
Because of the playoff implications, I’ve selected seven games this week, despite just a handful of games to pick from. All of these should (key word: should) have an impact, although that’s impossible to know for sure until the dust settles.
All power rankings are as of Jan. 30.
3-AAA No. 19 Dover (9-11) at No. 20 East Pennsboro (11-8)
Whoever wins this matchup likely puts themself in the driver’s seat to sneak back into the AAA playoff scene, where the top 18 make it.
The Panthers play lockdown defense, having allowed just 44.2 points per game this season. That should bode well against Dover’s leading scorer and 3-point specialist Ryan Beck.
East Penn doesn’t have true top weapons of its own, but the offense works because any given player can step up for a big shot or a big game. But it would certainly help if Amir Mundy and Sammy Powery, their leading scorers, had a big game.
ADVANTAGE: East Pennsboro (Because they hold Dover under their 55.45 ppg mark.)
Red Land (6-14, 3-11 Keystone) at 3-AAAA No. 25 Cedar Cliff (11-9, 6-8)
Red Land gets to play the role of spoiler, which it has done well at points this season already.
Cedar Cliff is already five spots out of the playoff picture and needs a ton of help. But it all starts with them winning out, starting with this game. It also wouldn’t hurt if the Colts could win big and help their stock a little more before they take on Lower Dauphin.
The Patriots will simply want to knock off another division foe. They’re already 1-0 against the Colts, having won 63-60 back on Jan. 8, so they’ll have the confidence. If Tyler Zeiders (51) and Morgan Keiser (27) can get hot from 3-point territory it could be trouble for Cedar Cliff.
ADVANTAGE: Cedar Cliff (Because they get big games from Ford and Galic.)
3-AAAA No. 23 Central Dauphin (10-11, 5-8 Commonwealth) at No. 8 Cumberland Valley (15-5, 9-3)
Central Dauphin needs the win to have a hope in the district power rankings. CV needs the win to still have a shot at the Commonwealth crown, where they can tie with Carlisle and Harrisburg.
CD has two dynamic scorers in Manny Gonzalez and Devin McArthur, who have 106 field goals each and 32 and 29 treys, respectively. The Eagles play good defense but had their hands full in the first matchup, surrendering 65 points on Jan. 15.
Coach Mike Hibbs said after the Carlisle loss that they’re more focused on the district tournament, but they’ll still want to win this game and shoot for a share of the Commonwealth.
ADVANTAGE: Cumberland Valley (Because Matt Tamanosky has been unstoppable despite an ankle injury the past two games.)
Red Land at East Pennsboro
This is the Panthers last shot.
A win against the Patriots and they could find themselves back in the 3-AAA playoff picture. A loss and it’s likely over.
They have the better defense, allowing just 44.2 against Red Land’s 61.2. They should be able to shut down Zeiders and Keiser, especially when they go for long jumpers and 3’s. East Penn doesn’t get burned much by the long ball and that should continue.
Plus this game is at home, where they are slightly better on offense and defense.
ADVANTAGE: East Pennsboro (Because of their defense.)
Cumberland Valley at 3-AAAA No. 14 CD East (12-8, 9-4)
CV will have to find a way to slow down Dwight Whitlock, because stopping him is likely impossible. The last time these teams faced, Whitlock went off for a then-season-high 30 points, knocking down a still-season-high 12 field goals.
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The Panthers will have extra motivation trying to stay on the right side of the playoff picture. The Eagles are already in and are just playing for seeding and a share of the Commonwealth. So at home East could be a little tougher than normal.
ADVANTAGE: CD East (Because home court advantage is real, especially in the Commonwealth.)
Cedar Cliff at 3-AAAA No. 16 Lower Dauphin
If the Colts are within striking distance by this point they’ll have to win this game. A win here would help two-fold. Winning could bump them into the 3-AAAA playoffs plus knock a fellow contender down a peg.
Lower Dauphin can match Cedar Cliff with size and athleticism across the board. They may even have a bit more length on their bench than CC. It will be crucial for Derek Ford and Tyler Hoagland to be a force in the backcourt to create opportunities for Zack Galic down low.
ADVANTAGE: Cedar Cliff (Because this is their last gasp and they need to bring everything.)
This week’s games:
•Big Spring at Gettysburg, 6:30
• Harrisburg Academy at New Covenant Christian, 6:30
•Waynesboro at Carlisle, 7:30
•Red Land at Cedar Cliff, 7:30
•Dover at East Pennsboro, 7:30
•Mechanicsburg at Lower Dauphin, 7:30
•Susquehanna Twp. at Trinity, 7:30
•Hershey Christian at West Shore Christian, 7:30
•Susquenita at Boiling Springs, 7:30
•Mount Calvary at West Shore Christian, 7:30
•Central Dauphin at Cumberland Valley, 7:30
•Lititz Christian at Harrisburg Academy, 7
•Carlisle at Greencastle-Antrim, 7:30
•Red Land at East Pennsboro, 7:30
•Chambersburg at Mechanicsburg, 7:30
•Lower Dauphin at Shippensburg, 7:30
•Northern at West Perry, 7:30
•Cumberland Valley at CD East, 7:30
•Cedar Cliff at Lower Dauphin (DH), 8
•Harrisburg Academy at Lancaster Christian, 7:30
Email Jake Adams at email@example.com or follow him or Twitter @jakeadams520