February 18, 2010
The Cape Fear Valley 3A Conference girls' tournament semifinals are on tap for tonight, with top-seeded Union Pines hosting and taking the floor against No. 4 Western Harnett at 7:30 p.m., after No. 2 Westover battles No. 3 Overhills at 6 p.m.
With the tournament down to four teams, I've found myself thinking today about what happened in this tournament on semifinal Thursday a season ago.
The top four seeds in the 2008-09 event, defending champion and No. 1-seed Western Harnett, No. 2 Union Pines, No. 3 Overhills and No. 4 Triton (now a member of the Eastern Carolina 3A Conference), all advanced past the first round, with Western to host both semifinal games.
Since both the boys' and girls' tournament finals were to be hosted by the highest remaining girls' seed, most everybody expected to be back at Western, considered a Class 3A state championship contender by many, on Friday.
Boy was everybody in for a surprise.
I arrived at Western on Thursday only to learn that the homestanding Lady Eagles would not be taking the floor, after forfeiting their opening-round win along with several regular-season games for using an ineligible player.
(It was later learned the player in question was not ineligible. Western had just committed a paperwork error.)
Instead, eight-seed Harnett Central (which moved to the Greater Neuse 4A Conference in the offseason) was back to face Triton, after the Lady Trojans thought their season had ended on the same floor two nights earlier.
Union Pines could have hosted both semifinal games but declined, electing not to change the site on short notice. Playing on Western's home court, the Lady Vikings were upset by Overhills, in overtime if I remember correctly, before Triton won a close game against Central in the nightcap.
The wacky turn of events culminated in Overhills capturing the relatively new school's first-ever team conference championship by routing Triton in the finals.
But it wasn't over. Several months later, the Triton coaches alerted me to the fact that the conference tournament championship trophy now rested in their trophy case.
Overhills had forfeited its entire girls' basketball season for using an ineligible player.
Obviously, Triton's Lady Hawks won't be at Union Pines tonight to defend their title, although considering what happened last year, I'm almost hesitant to say they won't walk away with the trophy.