The high school regular season comes to a close tonight, with a Region 7-3A matchup between Cherokee Bluff and North Hall highlighting the schedule as the two schools from opposite sides of Hall County clash for the No. 3 seed in next week’s region tournament.
With a packed house expected to fill the gym at North Hall, Trojans coach Tyler Sanders said the game should provide the best possible simulation of a postseason game the team could ask for going into the most important stretch of the year.
“It’s fun for our kids, and even the coaches too to play in those kinds of environments and be a part of the game in those environments,” he said. “We kind of have an old school gym where everyone is kind of on top of you. It gets crowded and it gets loud. I think that’s a whole lot of fun.”
The contest could also be the last home game for North Hall’s seven seniors, and will give both squads a last look at each others teams before the start of the region tournament.
But outside of that, both Sanders and Cherokee Bluff coach Benjie Wood agreed that not much is at stake in terms of playoff success.
“I’ve had teams that played well at the end of the regular season and not played well in the postseason and vice versa,” Wood said. “We’re just focusing on us and hoping we can get healthy. We really haven’t been healthy all year, so that’s our thing. We’re trying to get guys well and get them healthy for next week.”
It’s the same story for teams around the county as they finish off their schedules and turn attentions to postseason tournaments. Competing every week is important, and so is maintaining positivity.
But earning a higher seed for the region tournament is less crucial than playing well when every game is win or go home.
“I don’t know how much momentum matters,” Sanders said. “Because once we get to next Tuesday, everybody is 0-0.”
Wood — who coached at Johnson when Sanders was a player, and was head coach at North Hall when Sanders was his assistant — is of much the same opinion.
All the focus remains on winning today, but once the game is over, coaches from around the area will refocus entirely on the week to come.
“Tyler and I have talked, and whether it’s the 3 or the 4 seed — either way you have to play well next week,” Wood said. “That’s what really matters.”