This time, it was personal.
Pine Lake Prep’s boys basketball team took matters into its own hands when finalizing the postseason plans in its PAC-7 Conference ranks.
After finishing the regular-season segment of their schedule all knotted up in a two-way tie for the circuit’s first-place spot, the Pride prevailed in a relatively low-scoring – by their previous standards at any rate – and defensive dominated, 48-42 edging of fellow co-champion Mountain Island Charter that was used to settle the league’s seeding status for playoff purposes once and for all.
Courtesy of capturing the decision coming in a tiebreaker game approved on the part of the N.C. High School Athletic Association in situations where an additional one game was needed in order to allow leagues to determine postseason berths, Pine Lake parlayed the polishing off of an overall 14-1 performance into the snaring of the PAC-7’s preferred number-one seed heading into this week’s participation in statewide postseason play.
Alas, however, even that effort came up shy of rewarding the Pride with a favorable situation regarding its playoff positioning.
Despite being officially recognized as the top-seeded entry from the PAC-7 ranks, Pine Lake was saddled with the No. 9 seed in its NCHSAA West Region 1A class boys bracket that called for it to head into second-season play on tap to initiate that phase of play away from home.
Only in the case of posting an upset of their own and also needing the same verdicts to be rendered elsewhere in the 16-team bracket will the Pride be able to appear in a postseason game at home.
Earning the preferred No. 1- seeded attention from the league came complete with some welcome payback as well.
During the course of regulation play, the lone loss endured by Pine Lake took place in the first of the season’s meetings with league rival MIC. Since that time, though, the Pride has embarked on a season’s best 10-game win streak that has now included back-to-back wins over the conference foe. PLP also headed into this week’s playoffs riding the wave of that double-digit game win spree. In the process, the Pride prevailed in the rubber-game showdown between the top two that scored them the number-one seed.
In tallying what wound up being their second lowest total point tally of the entire season, the victorious Pride – awarded the right to host the tiebreaker courtesy of a favorable coin toss – banked on the services of just four players to account for their entire point production. Pacing the foursome, Cole Callaway connected on a team-best two shots from 3-point range to finish with 18 points, while teammate J.T. Harper knocked down another 17 points to also complement his claiming of 11 rebounds used to account for his personal double-double in the contest.
PLP nursed a narrow, 21-19 lead at the intermission break and enlarged the difference to near the twin-figure mark over the course of third period play. That allowed the Pride s to withstand a slight charge in the fourth period to net the win.
Pine Lake entered the opening round of postseason play tabled to travel to take on No. 8 West Region entry North Stanly late Tuesday night for a bid to move on into Thursday’s second round that could very well feature a match-up against overall region top-seeded entry Mitchell County. Third-round action in the fast break-paced and single-elimination playoffs will take place over the upcoming weekend.