If the Allen boys and girls squads don’t justify their seedings at this week’s Pontotoc Conference Tournament, it won’t be because somebody else had home court advantage.
For the first time ever, the host Mustangs and Lady Mustangs will both be the tournament’s top seeds, and they will kick things off in the first two games of the six-day event Monday evening.
Allen will face the eighth-seeded Calvin girls and boys in the tournament openers 5 and 6:20 p.m., respectively, to kick off the first of back-to-back four-game schedules. Tupelo will meet Asher in a 3-6 girls contest at 7:40, and the second-seeded (and defending tournament champion) Roff boys will meet seventh seed Wanette at 9 p.m.
Tuesday’s four-game slate begins at 5 p.m. with No. 2 seed Stonewall meeting sixth seed Wanette at 5 p.m., then the Vanoss and Tupelo boys will collide in a 3-6 contest at 6:20. The fourth-seeded Vanoss girls will take on No. 5 Roff at 7:40, and Asher and Stonewall will close out the first round with a 4-5 boys contest at 9 p.m. that figures to be one of the highlights of the first two days of the tournament.
Loser’s bracket games will be played on Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m., the consolation finals kick off Thursday’s schedule at 5 p.m. (girls) and 6:20 (boys) and will be followed by the two girls semifinals, and Friday’s schedule includes the girls third-place game at 6 p.m. and the boys semifinals at 7:30 and 9 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule begins at 4:30 p.m. with the boys third-place game, and the girls and boys championship contests will follow at 6 and 7:30 p.m.
Allen captured the girls title in 2009, and although his veteran squad is favored to repeat, coach Jeremy Strong said the girls bracket appears to be as competitive as it has been in years.
“I think it’s anybody’s to win,” said Strong, whose club is 3-0 after impressive wins over Calvin, Asher and Weleetka to start the season. “There are four or five teams that could legitimately win this thing. We did it last year so we have a target on our backs but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Stonewall (unbeaten and ranked No. 15 in Class A) has a good group, Tupelo (6-2), Vanoss (3-3 after upsetting Tupelo Tuesday) and Roff have improved,” he added. “The girls side of the tournament is going to be tough.”
Roff cruised to the boys title the past two years and, despite suffering wholesale graduation losses off their 2009-2010 Class B state championship team, the Tigers (3-4 after upsetting Dale in their last game on Nov. 23) are a threat to make it three straight in a bracket that is loaded with question marks
Allen manhandled Calvin Tuesday but was beaten handily at Weleetka Friday to fall to 1-1 on the season, Vanoss (3-3) beat Roff in the season opener for both teams and won at Tupelo Tuesday, Asher (5-2) lost at Stonewall on Nov. 12 but beat Tupelo a week later, and Stonewall — 4-3 after an impressive victory over Rock Creek Tuesday — leads the conference standings at 2-0 after wins over Asher and Vanoss and could be the tournament darkhorse on the boys side.