Eastside Catholic took a huge step in its playoff push on Tuesday with a 60-54 win over Franklin. The win was important for two reasons: One, it put them in the top four of Metro and, two, it put them in a position to win the Mountain Division.
The top 10 teams in Metro battle it out in a league tournament to find out what eight teams will advance to the districts, as well as for seeding. The top four of those play each other in a semi-separate tournament that produces a Metro League champion. Eastside Catholic solidified its place in the top four with the win over Franklin. Even if the Crusaders (12-2 Metro) lose its final two games and Franklin (9-3), which is fifth in the standings, win its final three, Eastside Catholic would have the advantage due to the head-to-head matchup.
That also sets up a very important game for the Crusaders against O’Dea tonight. The Irish (10-3) won the previous matchup 64-63 (a thrilling matchup won on a tip-in by Jamie Orme). A win by O’Dea essentially puts the two teams in a tie, with the Irish gaining the tie-break. O’Dea has two winnable games left, against Ingraham and Cleveland. If Eastside Catholic were to win, it would have the advantage in the Mountain Division, even if it were to lose at home to West Seattle in its regular season finale on Tuesday.
“I was really excited for my players, I was really excited for my program,” Eastside Catholic coach Bill Liley said of the win over Franklin. “It’s something that we’re just continuing to try to do, which is to build a basketball tradition at Eastside Catholic.”
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As far as the top four teams in Metro, Rainier Beach and Eastside Catholic have solidified their spots. O’Dea, Seattle Prep and Franklin are battling for the final two positions. This is where it gets messy.
O’Dea and Seattle Prep split their two meetings. The Irish beat Franklin, but the Quakers still have a shot at Seattle Prep next week. But Franklin also finishes the season with undefeated Rainier Beach. Seattle Prep has tonight off and finishes with a winnable game against Chief Sealth next week after playing Franklin.
Things will start to take shape after next Tuesday’s games, but it’s important to remember that no matter what happens, all of these teams are talented and will be significant players deep in the postseason.