There isn’t an exact science or one simple way to approach the Central District tournament draw, coaches have different ideas of what is best for their teams and ultimately try and find the path that will take them as deep as they can possibly go.
The Central District boys basketball coaches will convene on Sunday, Feb. 9, at Gahanna Lincoln to draw the tournament brackets for all four division tournaments.
Jonathan Alder boys coach Brent Cahill said the expectations heading into the draw are determined a lot on just how good a coach believes his team is and how far they can ultimately go.
“I’ve been on both sides of it,” Cahill said. “A couple years ago we were the top seed and there really wasn’t much to choosing what spot to go on on the bracket. Last year we were kind of down toward the bottom and had to take what was there.”
This year the Pioneers (10-4) figure to be the highest seeded team among the Madison County schools but even then, the coach is thinking his squad will be seeded near the middle of the 28-team Division II field.
“I think we’ll probably be around 12 to 17 or so,” Cahill said. “We’ve only played 14 games so I’m not sure how that will go over with the coaches, but with having such a young team I’d be really happy to get a home game.”
The coach believes the comfort of playing in a familiar setting will help his youngsters, many of whom have never played in the tournament environment.
“A lot of time those first round games are a toss-up so if we can get one in our gym that would be good,” he said.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle the Pioneers and fellow D-II foe London (8-8) have to deal with in the district is the fact that there is a wide variety of different teams and different styles they play.
“Division II is so much different than D-I or D-III in that you have country schools, Catholic schools and city schools and there are a bunch of different styles you could face,” Cahill said.
London coach Darren Long has seen his team ride the up and down roller coaster of success and disappointment this season. He truly believes his squad can make a deep run in the tournament if they get their heads on straight.
“I have confidence in this team as we get ready for tournament time,” Long said. “It’s not how you play at the beginning but how you play at the end and that’s the momentum we have to take into the tournament.
“We’re mathematically out of our league race but that’s the beauty of it, we have a chance to be a tournament champion. But we’ve got to listen, we also need someone to step up and lead us. We have seniors that need to step up and lead us going into the tournament.”
Both Madison-Plains (2-13) and West Jefferson (1-14) will likely find themselves at or near the bottom of the seeding in the D-III tournament draw, while Shekinah Christian (11-6) should receive one of the higher seeds in Division IV.
“The goal is to pick what you think will be the best route for your team,” Cahill said. “But the thing is you can have a plan going in and have things go a different way. The first 10 spots are so unpredictable, you could think something is going to happen a certain way and they go a completely different direction.”