Column: The playoff prediction index

Believe it or not, winter is slowing starting to shift to spring. Or at least that’s how it felt with the multiple sunny-ish days this week.

But as the seasons and climate change, so does the sports climate. Basketball, wrestling and swimming will soon morph to baseball, softball and track and field. Even though spring sports are less than three weeks away from starting, it feels like a long way away because there are several basketball teams in the county who are making a push for the playoffs.

Here’s a quick glance at how the county’s basketball teams are faring entering the final stretch of the season.

The Clinchers: Toledo boys and girls

No matter what happens the next two games, the Toledo boys team will finish as the Sunset Conference champions and the Girls team will finish no lower than second place. Should the Boomers beat Gold Beach on Friday, then the girls will be in a tie for first place entering the final game of the season against Waldport.

In a Good Spot: Newport boys and girls

Early on in the season, perhaps even before the season, Newport head coach Doug Sain said that you can’t win league in one game, but you can lose it one game.

Both the Newport boys and girls team in good positions — both tied for second in the Oregon West Conference and in contention for a conference title, and are both ranked in the OSAA top-12 — to make it to the postseason with four games left on the schedule.

But as Sain’s saying goes, a bad game (or a couple) could make things a little dicey. During the first leg of conference play, all four of the girl’s team wins were decided by nine points or fewer — three of which were fewer than four points — in a conference where each team is ranked in the OSAA top-20.

The boys might have a clearer path. Their next three games come against teams — Philomath, Cascade and Yamhill-Carlton — that they previously beat by an average of nearly 20 points. Should Newport win all three of those games, they will host Stayton with a shot at its first conference title since 2003.

The Bubble Teams: Waldport boys, Eddyville Charter boys, Siletz Valley boys

The Waldport boys team needs a strong next couple of games.

After thumping Reedsport to keep pace in the conference standings, the Irish loss by two to Gold Beach three days later, which did not help their playoff prospects. Waldport did rebound to beat Bandon by 24, but still needs the ball to bounce its way in the final two games of the year.

Waldport needs Reedsport to lose to either Bandon or Myrtle Point — preferably both — for a shot at the second automatic qualifying spot in the Sunset Conference.

A loss to Myrtle Point on Friday would be a devastating loss for the Irish, one they might not be able to overcome, with the final game of the year coming against No. 4 Toledo.

What helps Waldport at this point is that they are currently ranked No. 19, just on the cusp of the 16-team state tournament, so an at-large bid is still in play.

The Thursday matchup between Eddyville Charter and Siletz Valley might have the most at stake.

Both teams enter the final game of the season tied for third place in the Mountain West League, each with a 7-4 league record. Unless the game ends in a tie, one of those teams will have the upper-hand in the standings and an inside track to the playoffs.

Now, the Feb. 8 game is not the final deciding factor. Both teams will have to play in the Mountain West League tournament, so in theory, both teams could or could not make it depending on how that tournament plays out.

Editor’s note: The game between Siletz Valley and Eddyville Charter tipped off Thursday evening after pages had been sent to press.

In Need of Some Serious Help: Waldport girls, Siletz Valley girls, Taft boys and girls

These four teams need a miracle or two to reach the postseason. Luckily for the Taft teams and Siletz Valley, they get to play in a league tournament that decides who goes to the postseason rather than the regular season standings. If either of those teams can catch fire for a three-game stretch, the postseason is still a possibility.

As for Waldport, they are in the trickiest situation. Despite winning four conference games, the Irish can’t finish in the top-two of the Sunset Conference and will have to climb up the OSAA standings while hoping for other bubble teams around the state to drop.

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