High school conference races across the Northwest have arrived at Friday’s final matchups of the basketball regular season.
The top two conference finishers in the regular season are automatic playoff qualifiers in eight-team leagues. Leagues with 10 teams have three qualifiers. Teams that don’t grab one of those spots can still earn an automatic berth by winning their conference tournament, and other teams will get in as wild cards when pairings are announced Feb. 22.
The Mountain Valley 2-A/1-A has already started its conference tournament, which will play a deciding role in which teams qualify for the postseason.
What’s at stake:
Boys: Central Piedmont 4-A
Reynolds (8-1 in the league) claimed its first conference title since the 2006-07 season with its win over Glenn (6-3) on Tuesday night. Glenn will be the second automatic qualifier for the NCHSAA playoffs.
Games to watch: Davie County at Reagan, Glenn at West Forsyth.
Boys: Piedmont Triad 3-A
Parkland (7-2) and Mount Tabor (7-2) remain in a first-place tie, and Parkland can wrap up the regular-season title with a win over Greensboro Smith by virtue of its regular-season sweep of Mount Tabor.
Smith (6-3) gets thrown into the mix if the Golden Eagles defeat Parkland. A loss for Mount Tabor against Southwest Guilford and a Smith win would mean the Spartans, Mustangs and Golden Eagles would be tri-champions. Parkland then would be seeded first because it went 3-1 against the other two teams, Mount Tabor (2-2) would be seeded second and Smith (1-3) would be the No. 3 seed. Parkland would be the top seed from the conference for the Class 3-A playoffs and Mount Tabor would be the No. 2 seed, while Smith would be a wild-card team.
Parkland lost to Smith 75-67 on Jan. 28, while Mount Tabor knocked off Southwest Guilford 69-56 that night.
Games to watch: Greensboro Smith at Parkland, Southwest Guilford at Mount Tabor.
Boys: Central Carolina 2-A
Lexington (15-2) and North Davidson (15-2) remain tied for first place and will be the two automatic qualifiers for the playoffs. If both teams win Friday, the Black Knights head into the conference tournament as the No. 1 seed based on their performance against third-place Salisbury.
Games to watch: Lexington at Thomasville, North Davidson at Ledford
Boys: Western Piedmont Athletic 2-A
West Stokes (12-1) has secured at least a share of the conference championship for the third straight season.
The Wildcats face North Forsyth (11-2), which is tied for second place with Atkins, in a chance to claim the title outright. West Stokes defeated the Vikings 54-51 on Jan. 22 on a 3-pointer from Isaac Spainhour as two seconds remained.
Victories by North Forsyth and Atkins Friday would mean a three-way tie for the title.
Games to watch: Atkins at Walkertown, West Stokes at North Forsyth.
Boys: Mountain Valley 2-A/1-A
The Mountain Valley 2-A/1-A ended regular-season play Tuesday, with Starmount claiming the conference title.
Per the NCHSAA, split conferences allow for automatic qualifiers from each classification. Starmount qualified out of Class 1-A, with Wilkes Central, and West Wilkes tied for second place in the conference in Class 2-A.
Those two teams could meet in the conference tournament semifinals Wednesday night.
Games to watch: No. 6 East Wilkes at No. 3 West Wilkes, Thursday; No. 7 Alleghany at No. 2 Wilkes Central, Thursday.
Boys: Northwest 1-A
Winston-Salem Prep (8-1) has clinched the conference title and first automatic berth in the playoffs.
East Surry (6-3) visited Mount Airy (6-3) on Thursday night to determine the conference’s second automatic bid.
Games to watch: Winston-Salem Prep at Bishop McGuinness.
Girls: Central Piedmont 4-A
Glenn (9-0) has remained perfect in league play and has clinched its first championship since winning the Piedmont Triad 3-A in 1999.
West Forsyth (7-2), which hosts Glenn, is in second place, though East Forsyth (6-3) could join the Titans in that spot with a win over Reynolds and a West Forsyth loss.
East Forsyth holds a tiebreaker for conference tournament play over West Forsyth. Their state tournament positioning could be determined by which team advances furthest in the league tournament or in a special playoff game before the league tournament final.
Games to watch: Glenn at West Forsyth, Reynolds at East Forsyth.
Girls: Piedmont Triad 3-A
Dudley (8-1) has clinched the top seed and a share of the regular-season championship.
As long as Dudley defeats a Western Guilford team it beat 78-47 in their first meeting, the Panthers will win the regular-season championship outright.
If the Hornets pull a massive upset, Dudley still would win tiebreakers with either Mount Tabor or Southwest Guilford. The winner of the Southwest Guilford-Mount Tabor matchup will be the conference runner-up and grab the second automatic bid to the playoffs. The loser will be a wild-card team in the Class 3-A playoffs.
Games to watch: Southwest Guilford at Mount Tabor, Western Guilford at Dudley.
Girls: Central Carolina 2-A
Salisbury (18-0) has claimed the championship and first automatic playoff berth.
Ledford (14-3) will be the No. 2 qualifier, with North Davidson (12-5) a lock for third place and an automatic berth from this 10-team conference.
Games to watch: North Davidson at Ledford, Central Davidson at West Davidson.
Girls: Mountain Valley 2-A/1-A
The Mountain Valley 2-A/1-A tournament began Thursday, with Ashe County (11-3) as the top seed in the bracket after a three-way tie in the standings.
Alleghany took the No. 2 seed, with Wilkes Central at No. 3.
A draw occurred for conference tournament seedings, with Alleghany being the automatic qualifier for the Class 1-A playoffs. If Ashe County and Wilkes Central both lose in the semifinals, a play-in game will occur to determine the Class 2-A qualifier.
Games to watch: No. 8 Elkin at No. 1 Ashe County, Thursday; No. 5 North Wilkes at No. 4 West Wilkes, Thursday; No. 7 East Wilkes at No. 2 Alleghany, Thursday; No. 6 Starmount at No. 3 Wilkes Central, Friday.
Girls: Western Piedmont Athletic 2-A
Forbush (13-0) has won the Western Piedmont Athletic 2-A and first automatic playoff berth.
West Stokes (11-2) is locked into second place — its two losses being close ones against the Falcons — and the second state playoff berth from the eight-team conference.
Games to watch: Forbush at North Surry.
Girls: Northwest 1-A
Bishop McGuinness (7-2) sits just a game behind league leader East Surry (8-1).
If the Cardinals defeated Mount Airy (6-3) on Thursday night, they’d win the league outright. A loss and a Villains victory Friday against Winston-Salem Prep would leave them tied in the standings.
Games to watch: East Surry at Mount Airy, Thursday; Winston-Salem Prep at Bishop McGuinness, Friday.