A lot of games remain in the high school basketball season to decide conference races.

But assumptions can be made.

Of course, we all know you have to be careful when you assume, however, I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway.

Both the 3A Coastal Conference and 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference boys races look to come down to three dates.

The Coastal has played just two games in its 10-game schedule. Even with that limited sample size, it looks like the season will be decided by two West Carteret and Northside-Jacksonville matchups.

The Patriots will host the Monarchs on Tuesday, Jan. 28 and then travel to Jacksonville for the regular season finale on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Both teams are 2-0 in the league. And Northside has also beaten Jacksonville 76-66 in nonconference action at the Onslow County Christmas Tournament.

West won its first conference championship in 33 years last season with an 8-2 league record, and Northside tied with White Oak for the runner-up spot at 7-3 apiece.

It appears the 1A/2A Coastal boys title chase will be decided on Friday, Jan. 24 when Pender visits East Carteret. The Patriots defeated the Mariners 92-79 in the first matchup, thanks to Jajuan Carr’s 47 points.

Pender is 6-0 in the league while East is 4-1. Every other team has at least two conference losses.

The Mariners have yet to play Croatan (3-2) or Lejeune (3-3) and will also have to vie with Dixon (3-2) for a second time. They eked out a 58-57 win over the Bulldogs in the first matchup.

On the girls side, the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference is Croatan’s to lose for a second consecutive season. The Cougars went 14-0 in the league last year and is 5-0 this season, winning each game by double digits and capturing those five contests by an average of 25.2 points.

It’s basically a race for second place in the conference. Richlands has the inside track with a 4-1 mark.

Croatan will host Richlands on Friday, Feb. 7.

East is currently seventh in the eight-team league with a 1-4 record.

After last Friday night, the 3A Coastal appears to be wide open.

Swansboro entered its game with West Carteret with a 12-0 overall record, but the Patriots pulled off the 56-39 upset to improve to 6-8 overall. Both teams are now 1-1 in the league.

Jacksonville, which might be the most talented team in the conference, and White Oak are both 2-0 in league play.

West has yet to play White Oak. The Patriots will travel to take on the Vikings this Friday and then play host on Friday, Feb. 7.

The Patriots will play back-to-back tough road games to close out January and begin February. They will travel to Jacksonville on Friday, Jan. 31. West played perhaps its worst game of the season in the first matchup with the Cardinals, turning it over 30 times in a 62-51 loss. The Patriots will then visit Swansboro on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

(Send comments or questions to jj@thenewstimes.com or follow him on Twitter @jjsmithccnt.)

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