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High school basketball: Carthage, 17-1, settles for No. 3 seed in sectionals

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Carthage boys basketball coach Jeff Ventiquattro crunched the numbers and knew what was in store for his Comets.

Because Section 3 uses a seeding index based on a points system, assigning different point values to wins and losses based on classification of opponents, Ventiquattro was well aware of what his club had to do to earn a coveted No. 1 seed for the upcoming Section 3 Class A tournament.

“It was obvious well in advance that we needed to run the table to get the top seed,” Ventiquattro said. “We figured it would probably come down to our game with Whitesboro, and it did. We scheduled four nonleague games against teams with the same Class A status as us (Massena twice, New Hartford, Whitesboro) to challenge our team with the point system in mind.”

So despite a 17-1 record, Class A’s best, Carthage has been relegated to a No. 3 seed for the upcoming sectional playoffs. The Comets are seeded behind No. 1 Jamesville-DeWitt and No. 2 and defending class champion Bishop Ludden, each with two losses.

It also means that Carthage, if it beats No. 6 Camden (9-7) in a home quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. Tuesday, would presumably face Bishop Ludden in the semifinals on Feb. 22.

Under the old system, which seeded strictly on record, Carthage would have been No. 1. But because the Comets lost to Whitesboro 64-60 last Saturday in their final game before the playoffs, Carthage lost five points and finished with 68 points. J-D and Ludden, playing almost strictly Class A competition and above, finished with 73 and 72 points, respectively.

Instead of meeting J-D or Bishop Ludden before the finals, Carthage’s road might have been just a bit easier under the old system.

Adding to the process for Carthage is the fact that the Whitesboro game was scheduled to be a home game the preceding Saturday, but was snowed out. The only way Carthage could get that important game in was to go on the road.

Under this point system, winning three games against Immaculate Heart Central this season actually hurt the Comets. IHC is a Class C club, and Carthage earned only nine points for the beating the Cavaliers three times.

“The difficult part for us is that teams playing in a league that has all teams of the same class can earn 10 points for only playing (and winning) two games,” Ventiquattro said.

Also, two wins each over Class B schools South Jefferson, General Brown and Lowville netted Carthage 24 points. If they had played six other Class A schools they would have garnered 30 points.

“The system is what it is and we know that it’s going to be tough no matter what your seed is,” Ventiquattro said. “We played five games in seven days over last week and a half and had zero practices because of the weather. Before Monday night we went 10 days without a practice. This week is important to get back into a routine of practicing, and hopefully find some sort of rhythm.”

After a two-year experiment, boys basketball will go back to seeding strictly on record next season.

And while the point system hurt Carthage, it helped IHC draw a higher seed than it probably would have received with a 13-5 record.

IHC was seeded fifth in Class C, which did not split for the first time in a long time. Mike Delaney’s club was seeded higher than three teams with just four losses because it accumulated lots of points playing and beating Class A schools Indian River and Watertown, as well as the three Class B schools in the Frontier League.

And if not for a loss to Class D Sackets Harbor in a Christmas Tournament, IHC might have been seeded even higher.

“Obviously, our schedule isn’t typical for a Class C school,” said Delaney, whose team hosts No. 12 Westmoreland (12-6) at 7 p.m. Friday in the first round. “We’re optimistic that playing Carthage and Indian River three times will help us handle anything we see in our class. I know the kids are a little more confident because we’ve played better basketball over the past few weeks.”

Here’s how the Section 3 boys tournament looks for the other Frontier League teams.

Class A: Indian River (9-9) is seeded ninth and plays at No. 8 Fowler (7-10) on Friday night.

Class B: No. 12 South Jefferson (8-10) plays a first-round game at No. 5 Cazenovia (14-4) Friday night. No. 15 Lowville (6-12), fresh off its Frontier League “B” Division playoff championship win, travels to No. 2 Sherburne-Earlville (15-3) Friday night.

Class C: Sandy Creek (16-2) earned the No. 3 seed and hosts Frontier League “C” Division foe, No. 14 Thousand Islands (9-9), Friday night.

Also, No. 8 South Lewis (14-4) hosts No. 9 Weedsport (13-4) Friday night.

Class D: Sackets Harbor (15-3) is the No. 2 seed and will play host to No. 15 Faith Heritage (5-12) Friday night. No. 14 Copenhagen (7-10) plays at No. 3 McGraw (14-3) Friday, while No. 8 Lyme (11-7) is home vs. No. 8 Tyburn Academy (10-7) at 8 p.m. Saturday.

All finals are at the Carrier Dome on March 1.

Girls SectionAL Seedings

Copenhagen claimed the only top seed among Frontier League schools in the Section 3 girls tournament. But four other Frontier League teams grabbed No. 2 seeds.

Copenhagen (15-2) will host the winner of Friday’s first-round game between No. 8 Cincinnatus (7-9) and No. 9 DeRuyter (6-7) on Tuesday.

South Jefferson (18-0), which made the Class B finals last season and has won nine of the last 12 sectionals crowns, received the No. 2 seed behind No. 1 Sherburne-Earlville. The Spartans play host to No. 15 Cazenovia (8-9) on Friday night.

Indian River (15-3) received the No. 2 seed in Class A. The Warriors are home Tuesday against the winner of Friday’s game between No. 7 East Syracuse-Minoa (7-10) and No. 10 Oneida (5-12).

And the Thousand Islands girls (15-3) are No. 2 in Class C and play host to No. 15 West Canada Valley ((8-10) at 4 p.m. Saturday.

In other girls tournament games:

Carthage (10-8) is the No. 5 seed in Class A and plays at No. 4 Camden (11-6) on Tuesday.

In Class B, General Brown (11-7) is seeded No. 11 and plays at No. 6 Bishop Grimes (14-4) on Friday.

In Class C, No. 12 Beaver River (7-9) plays at No. 5 Cooperstown (12-6) on Friday. No. 16 IHC (5-12) plays at top-seeded Little Falls (18-0) on Saturday.

In Class D, Lyme (12-5) received the No. 5 seed and plays host to No. 13 Otselic Valley in (4-12) in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader with the Lyme boys at 6 p.m.

Alexandria (9-8) earned the No. 7 seed and a Friday home date with Frontier League rival Sackets Harbor (6-11), seeded 10th.

Girls championships are slated for Feb. 27 and 28 at the Dome.

Sportswriter John Day covers high school basketball for the Times. You may reach him at jday@wdt.net

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