After the teams didn’t play Thursday as scheduled, a solution was agreed on in which the winner could choose to open against O’Dea or Juanita in the Class 3A SeaKing District tournament.
There was a buzz in the gymnasium. There was definitely more anticipation than expected for a Metro League boys basketball tournament game with seventh and eighth places at stake.
That’s because Friday’s matchup between Eastside Catholic and Franklin — which resulted in a 73-68 win for the Crusaders at Ingraham — had already seen some tension and twists and turns off the court.
At issue was the seeding into the Class 3A SeaKing District tournament, which starts Saturday. The winner of the seventh/eighth-place game would face No. 4 O’Dea (19-3) in a loser-out game. The loser got unranked Juanita (12-10), thus making it a game neither team had incentive to win.
The two schools apparently couldn’t come to terms with what was at stake for the winner, so they elected not to play Thursday. Instead, a source said school representatives came into the Metro League office for a coin flip to decide seeding, with the result not announced.
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The source said a meeting early Friday produced a new solution: The winner of the game would get its choice of district opponent, thus making Eastside Catholic a winner in more ways than one.
“We just didn’t feel a coin flip was the best way to move teams forward,” Metro League president Pat McCarthy said. “We re-considered it and thought it’s probably best for these teams to play. I don’t know if that’s odd.
“They were never not wanting to play the game. Everybody was trying to figure out the seeding and what’s the best way to have our teams move forward. It’s gone on before (in other leagues). This is not the first time.”
In most circumstances, the winner would claim the No. 7 seed. The Crusaders (18-4) advance as the No. 8 seed so they can travel to Juanita, the No. 2 KingCo 3A team, in Saturday’s 7 p.m. loser-out district opener.
“I suggested we play the other night,” EC coach Brent Merritt said. “It was tough getting everybody here at 6 o’clock (Friday) and we didn’t have uniforms. We had to have parents bring uniforms. Pat McCarthy, the head of Metro, wanted us to play the game. This is normally a game that is played. I’m not at liberty to say what happened.”
That leaves Franklin (16-7) with a loser-out district date at O’Dea (19-3) on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Irish, ranked No. 4 in the state, lost in the Metro quarterfinals to West Seattle and took the No. 5 out of Metro.
“We just needed to play the game,” Franklin coach Craig Jackson said. “Initially, I was told to come down (to the Metro office) for a coin flip.”
The Friday re-scheduling put both teams in a back-to-back nights scenario.
“We play back-to-back games anyway,” Merritt said. “We played back-to-backs with Lakeside and Blanchet this year, and in the state tournament you play back-to-back, so it’s not a big deal playing back-to-back.”
Regarding the choosing of Eastside’s next opponent, Merritt was asked if it would be Juanita and his response was “most definitely.”
“That’s why we played the game,” Merritt said. “I don’t think anybody’s really scared to play O’Dea or Juanita. Tonight was a heckuva game. (The reward for winning) makes both teams play hard, so I was happy about that. There’s no easy nights in Metro. We won’t sleep on Juanita either.”
Senior guard Brock Mackenzie led Eastside with 18 points. Senior forward Maurice Barnett lead the Quakers with a game-high 28 points.