Filling field for first HAC tourney could be smoother
Shamokin will most likely play in the Heartland Conference tournament.
The Indians did enough work and benefited from a scheduling snafu to force the conference's hand and include a team which may not win its division, nor qualify normally as the wild card.
With a win over Milton Monday night, Shamokin forced a tie atop Division I with Danville. The Indians and Ironmen have one game against each other and this all would have worked itself out, but because of late-season postponements, the game couldn't be rescheduled until Friday, two days after the first round of the conference tournament.
See the issue here?
With three divisions, the pick of a fourth team was going to be a problem however you slice it.
In the Schuylkill League, which was the model the Heartland tournament was based on, the three division winners advance as well as the second-place team from Division I, or the big school division.
The HAC decided on a more complicated wild-card structure - the team which didn't win its division but had the best overall conference (not division), record would be the fourth team.
Under those guidelines, as of this typing, Muncy with an 11-3 conference record, with losses to Benton, Warrior Run and Millville, would be the fourth and final team. That 11-3 record is good for a .786 winning percentage. Shamokin's, even with the win Monday over Milton, was still just .769.
Muncy will probably get hacked by the HAC because Mother Nature interfered at the wrong time. That all hinges on if Muncy will beat Millville tonight, who the Indians lost to, 64-50, the first time they played.
The only other team with a real beef in how this has shaken down is Southern Columbia, which according to its 15-5 conference record, would have been next up if Muncy falters tonight.
For the record, we think the Heartland Conference tournament is a great idea, and in the age of Twitter and spray-on tans, we don't think many ideas are great.
However, a slightly bigger problem than the who in all this is the where.
Originally, the conference had decided and announced on holding all three days, Wednesday for girls, Thursday for boys and Saturday for the championship games at Bloomsburg University.
It's not a perfectly centralized location like Pottsville's Martz Hall is to the Schuylkill League, but it has been recently renovated and has, according to this year's media guide, a seating capacity of 1,745. That's slim compared to Martz Hall, but for the first year, gives the teams and fans a newer and exciting venue to see an inaugural tournament. If the tournament is a success, there is no reason to suspect that Bucknell University's Sojka Pavilion, with a 4,000-seat capacity, couldn't have been its permanent home.
But somewhere along the way, someone got cold feet and the $1,000 per night rental fee Bloom was asking seemed too steep.
Well, we're not math majors, but if the conference charged $5 a head and got even 1,000 people for each night that would equal $5,000 per night and $15,000 overall.
The conference really missed the boat on having a new, possibly marquee, event at a venue worthy of such a showcase.
As it stands, Mifflinburg High School will be the site of the semifinals on Wednesday and Thursday, with the finals at Williamsport High School, which isn't even a conference member for basketball.
Mount Carmel's girls will be one of the teams playing Wednesday, although good luck figuring out a time or opponent.