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Prep basketball: Final night of regular season could be fittingly wild

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Model senior Kaylee Akin (left) toes the line to keep the ball in play under pressure from Armuchee junior Jordan Burkett at Armchee High, Januyary 18, 2013. (Brittany Hannah/RN-T)

Brittany Hannah

By roughly 11 p.m. tonight, most of the prep basketball teams in Georgia will have played their final games of the regular season.

Then comes the really interesting part — doing the postseason paperwork.

And boy, is it going to be complicated, especially for the teams in Region 7-AA.

In fact, the GHSA might want to hire a professor from the Georgia Tech engineering department to figure out the final seeds and pairings for next week’s region tournament.

Model head coach Jacob Travis is one of several coaches in the region who knows his postseason fate is still completely up in the air, even with just one game left in the regular season.

“We could finish anywhere from fifth to third,” said Travis.

“And the region has been like that all year. But that’s what makes it fun, as long as you come out on the good side of it.”

In some cases, the outcomes of tonight’s games will help simplify the postseason picture. But in other instances, tonight’s results could make things even more complex.

Travis’ team, for instance, is hosting Murray County tonight in a contest that carries plenty of postseason importance.

Murray County is in third place in the standings, and owns a one-game lead over Model and Coosa, who are tied for fourth.

So the Devils, Eagles and Indians could see plenty of movement in the standings before the night is through, and could potentially finish the season tied for third.

Here’s a look at what’s on the line tonight for the other local teams:

ARMUCHEE BOYS: The Indians, who have won four of their past five region games, have a chance to improve their postseason position tonight. But it will take some work.

In order for Armuchee to move up from the seventh seed to the sixth, three things will have to happen: (1) Armuchee will have to upset Calhoun; (2) Pepperell will have to lose to Chattooga; and (3) Armuchee would have to win a coin flip against Pepperell.

However, even if those dominoes don’t fall the way the Indians are hoping, they will still carry plenty of momentum into next week’s region tournament after putting together a late-season surge that has included victories over Murray County, Coosa, Pepperell and Chattooga.

PEPPERELL BOYS: The Dragons can make things simple on themselves.

With a win tonight at home against Chattooga, the Dragons will nail down the No. 6 seed for the tournament, which opens on Tuesday at Georgia Highlands College.

Pepperell will be in action on the opening day of the tourney.

The No. 3 and 4 seeds will get first-round byes, and the No. 1 and 2 seeds will receive double-byes into the semifinals (and will earn automatic berths in the state tournament).

COOSA BOYS: The Eagles, who are hosting Dade County tonight, are still alive for the No. 3 seed.

If they win tonight, and Model falls to Murray County, there would be a three-way tie for third place, and multiple coin flips would likely be needed to determine the seeding.

ROME BOYS: The Wolves wrap-ped up the regular season on Tuesday night with a two-point loss to Woodland on the road.

Rome opens the region tournament on Saturday against Villa Rica.

Rome is the No. 5 seed from 5-AAAAA/A and Villa Rica is the 6 seed from 5-AAAAA/B.

DARLINGTON BOYS: The Darling-ton boys close out the regular tonight at Gordon Lee, which will be the Tigers’ fifth straight road game.

The Tigers will then enter the postseason with two paths to the state tournament: They can earn an automatic berth by winning next week’s region tourney or they earn a bid based on their power ranking.

However, the Tigers will need to boost their position in the power rankings in a hurry.

Darlington is currently ranked No. 26, and needs to move up about 10 spots to earn a bid to the state tournament.

MODEL GIRLS: The Lady Devils will have plenty of incentives dangling in front of them tonight when they host Murray County on Senior Night in Shannon.

With a victory, Model would nail down the No. 2 seed for the region tournament — and clinch in an automatic berth in the state tournament.

ARMUCHEE GIRLS: The Lady Indians should have plenty of motivation tonight when they play Calhoun.

Not only will they be trying to deny Calhoun’s bid for a perfect run through the region, but they are also still mathematically in the hunt for the No. 3 seed in next week’s tourney.

If Armuchee upsets Calhoun and Coosa stuns Dade County tonight, Armuchee will be the No. 3 seed. If either of those upsets don’t happen, the Lady Indians will be the No. 4 seed.

(Although Dade County and Armuchee have identical region records, Dade County owns the tie-breaker after sweeping the Lady Indians in the regular season).

PEPPERELL GIRLS: The Lady Dragons, like Armuchee, enter tonight’s game in need of some outside help in order to improve their tourney position.

The sixth-place Lady Dragons — who host Chattooga tonight — are one game behind fifth-place Murray County.

If Pepperell wins tonight, and Murray County falls to Model, there will be a coin flip to determine who is the No. 6 seed. (Pepperell and Murray County split their regular-season meetings).

Chattooga, which has gone winless in the region, will be the No. 8 seed.

COOSA GIRLS: The Lady Eagles are one of the few teams in the region to be locked into their postseason spot.

Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game against Dade County, the Lady Eagles will be the No. 7 seed at the tournament.

ROME GIRLS: The Lady Wolves concluded the regular season on Tuesday night with a win over Woodland to extend their winning streak to three ga-mes.

Rome will open the Region 5-AAAAA tournament on Tuesday, facing Villa Rica at Paulding County at 6 p.m. The winner earns a state tournament berth.

Rome is the No. 3 seed from subregion 5-AAAAA/A and Villa Rica is the No. 2 seed from subregion 5-AAAAA/B.

DARLINGTON GIRLS: The Lady Tigers have a simple situation on their hands: If they defeat Gordon Lee tonight on the road, the Lady Tigers will be the No. 2 seed from their subregion for next week’s 6-A/A tournament.

If Darlington falls tonight, Gordon Lee will be the No. 2 seed, and Darlington will slip to the No. 3 spot.

“The girls understand the importance (of this time of year),” said Darlington coach Josh Hembree.

“But for us, personally, we just look at each game as a chance to improve. … For our players, it’s about getting better every day.”

Regardless of what happens at next week’s region tournament — which opens on Tuesday at two sites, Walker and Mt. Paran — the Lady Tigers are essentially a lock for the state tournament based on the power rankings.

Darlington has been ranked among the top 5 in the power poll much of the season, including holding down the No. 3 spot in the latest rankings.

“There’s not a lot of speculation about (making state or not),” said Hembree, “so again, for us, we just want to continue to play up to the standard we’ve set for ourselves.”