Approximately 30 hours after this column hits the streets, this high school basketball regular season will be over.
This season, like all others before it, has gone by too quickly.
Next week, we’ll be enjoying conference tournament action, and then we get down to the nitty-gritty.
The playoffs will start Tuesday, Feb. 25, followed by the second round Thursday, Feb. 27 and the third round Saturday, Feb. 29.
Three county teams should have pretty good seeds, if you trust the projections.
For this example, we’ll go with those of our old pal Nick Stevens of WRAL’s HighSchoolOT.com. Stevens used to be a member of the News-Times Football Pick ‘em Panel, and he does as good of a job as anyone when it comes to nailing down projections.
The Croatan girls have the highest seed of any county team.
Entering Tuesday night, the Cougars (18-2) had won 14 straight games and were cruising to their second straight undefeated run through the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference.
Stevens gives Croatan the No. 6 seed in the 2A east and matching up with No. 11 West Bladen (13-5). The Knights are currently third in the 10-team 1A/2A Three Rivers Conference.
A win in that contest would have the Cougars likely hosting No. 11 T.W. Andrews (16-3). The Red Raiders are second in the Pac 7 Conference.
A win in that game would probably have Croatan on the road for a visit to No. 3 Bertie (16-2). The Falcons are unbeaten in the Northeastern Coastal Conference.
The Cougars haven’t advanced to the third round since 2009.
Entering Tuesday night, the West Carteret boys (17-3) had won 13 straight games and were headed to their second consecutive 3A Coastal Conference championship.
Stevens gives the Patriots the No. 7 seed in the 3A east and matching up with No. 26 Asheboro (13-5). The Blue Comets are fourth in the Mid-Piedmont Conference.
A win in that contest would have West likely hosting No. 10 Southern Lee (12-9). The Cavaliers are undefeated in the Tri-County 6 Conference.
A win in that game would probably have the Patriots on the road for a visit to No. 2 Northwood (19-2). The Chargers lead the Big Eight Conference.
West hasn’t advanced to the third round since the 1985 state championship season.
Entering Tuesday night, the East Carteret boys (15-3) had won 11 straight games and were on pace to at least tie with Pender for their first 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference title, which would be their first league championship since 2017.
Stevens gives the Mariners the No. 11 seed in the 1A east and matching up with No. 22 Tarboro (13-5). The Vikings are third in the Coastal Plains Conference.
A win in that contest would have East likely visiting No. 6 Henderson Collegiate (16-10). The Pride, last year’s 1A state runner-up, are leading the North Central Athletic Conference.
A win in that game would probably have the Mariners on the road for a trip to No. 3 West Columbus (19-2). The Vikings are second in the 1A/2A Three Rivers Conference.
East hasn’t advanced to the third round since 2018.
(Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @jjsmithccnt.)