It’s hard to match the excitement of postseason high school basketball.
But this year, the days leading up to the region tournaments might be just as intense as the tourneys themselves.
How so? Well, consider this: With one week remaining in the regular season, there are four boys teams in Region 7-AA that have four losses each — Model, Coosa, Dade County and Murray County.
At some point between now and next Saturday, one or two of those teams is likely to separate themselves from the rest of the group.
And it could begin to happen as early as tonight, when several key region showdowns will take place.
The list includes a pair of Floyd County rivalry match-ups, with Model traveling to Coosa and Armuchee visiting Pepperell.
Keep in mind that the teams in Region 7-AA aren’t just posturing for high seeds in the upcoming region tournament.
They are also battling for automatic berths in the state tournament, which will be awarded to the teams that finish first and second in the regular-season standings. (Those teams will receive first and second round byes in the region tourney).
Here’s a closer look at tonight’s match-ups involving the six GHSA schools from Floyd County:
MODEL AT COOSA: It appears that Model is doing what every coach wants: Getting hot at just the right time.
The Devils (13-8, 7-4) have jumped back in the 7-AA race by winning four of their past five games — and their lone defeat in that stretch was a one-point loss to Dade County.
Coosa, meanwhile, is having a stamina-testing week, playing four games in six days.
Tonight is game No. 3 of that stretch for the Eagles (13-7, 6-4), who opened the week with a loss to Murray County on Monday but bounced back for an overtime win over region-leading Calhoun on Tuesday.
ARMUCHEE AT PEPPERELL: After a rough start in 7-AA play, the Indians have won two of their past three games — beating Murray County and Chattooga.
The Indians showed their offense potential in the win over Chattooga, scoring 28 points in the third quarter and having three players finish in double figures: Jacob Booke scored 20, Chad Wilson had 16 and Jonathan Mason 15.
Pepperell enters tonight’s game in need of a late-season turnaround. The Dragons (7-11, 4-6) have lost five straight region games, which has dropped them from first place to sixth.
ROME AT NORTH PAULDING: With Matthew Scott continuing to produce solid numbers, the Wolves (7-16, 4-9) are building steam for the postseason.
They earned an overtime win at East Paulding on Tuesday night, and have now won four of their past six Region 5-AAAAA games. They have gone 7-5 since Dec. 19 after going 0-11 prior to that date.
Scott has been a catalyst during the surge, and he led the team with 13 points in the win over East Paulding.
Tonight, the Wolves have a golden chance to extend their hot streak when they face a North Paulding team that is 0-13 in the region.
DARLINGTON AT TRION: Darlington enters the stretch run in need of a late-season push in Region 6-A/A.
The Tigers were ranked No. 31 — among 39 teams — in the latest Class A private-school power rankings released by the GHSA. Darlington likely needs to move up about 15 spots to earn a berth to state.
Trion, conversely, is sitting in a favorable position to make the state tournament. The Bulldogs were listed at No. 14 in the latest public-school power poll, and a victory tonight could allow them to move up a notch or two.
NOTE: Unlike the other classifications, the seedings for the Class A state tournament are determined by a convoluted power rankings system.
Teams that win their respective region tournaments are awarded automatic berths, and the remaining bids are awarded based on the power rankings.
MODEL AT COOSA: The Model girls (17-5, 9-2) can grab an automatic bid to state by winning two of their final three games, which would assure them of no worse than a second-place finish in 7-AA.
They will try to take the first step toward that objective tonight when they travel across town to face a Coosa team that has fallen on hard times on the offensive end of the floor.
The Lady Eagles (5-15, 2-8) have been limited to 29 points or less in seven of their past nine games.
ARMUCHEE AT PEPPERELL: Despite what it says in the region standings, tonight’s game in Lindale could prove to be one of the most competitive contests of the night.
The Lady Dragons (10-11, 3-7) have played well at home throughout the season. They gave Model a stiff test in Lindale in early January during a 54-50 loss, and last week, they hung with Calhoun, the region front-runners, until the final four minutes.
Armuchee (11-10, 7-4) is putting together a strong second half to the season. The Lady Indians started to galvanize soon after Christmas, and they have won seven of their past 10 games.
Included in that hot stretch was a 53-38 victory over Pepperell on Jan. 8 in a game that was closer than the final score indicates. Armuchee didn’t secure the win until putting together a 14-3 run in the final six minutes.
ROME AT NORTH PAULDING: The Lady Wolves (11-12, 7-6) will be looking to complete a season sweep of North Paulding after earning a 51-41 win over the Lady Wolfpack (6-17, 2-11) on Jan. 15 at Rome.
Head coach Kevin Strickland wasn’t especially pleased with his team’s effort that night, and chances are, he reminded his players about that during the past few days.
Hence, the Lady Wolves are likely to be focused and hungry tonight as they look to continue a late-season push that has featured four wins in their past six games.
DARLINGTON AT TRION: Playing the second of five straight road games, the Lady Tigers are gearing up for what they hope will be a memorable postseason.
With Terar Stewart, Bailey Brock and Maggie Beth Atha providing the scoring punch, the Lady Tigers (15-5, 7-1) have won 12 of their past 14 games.
During that stretch, the Lady Tigers have been stockpiling quality wins, including victories over two of the top Class A teams in the state — SACA and Holy Innocents’ — along with a win over Model in the title game of the Rome News-Tribune/Seven Hills Rotary Club Holiday Festival.
The Lady Tigers are ranked No. 3 in the latest Class A power poll, and are in prime position to earn the right to host a first-round state tournament game.
Trion is ranked No. 28 in the power poll, and needs to make a quick rise in order to earn a bid to state.