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Tonight is a Showdown Wednesday of sorts in the Portage Trail Conference as both the Metro and County Division championship races should be much clearer by Thursday morning.
In the Metro Division, the Field Falcons travel to take on division-leader Norton. The first two times the teams met, Norton squeaked out of Brimfield with a 45-41 victory.
Since then, the Panthers have lost their only league game to date -- a surprising 52-49 defeat at the hands of Springfield, which remains the Spartans only division win of the entire season.
Meanwhile in Portage County, Kent Roosevelt travels to take on Ravenna in a rematch of mid-December's 48-34 Ravens victory.
Norton is currently one game up on Ravenna and two games on Roosevelt and Field with four Metro Division games remaining. A loss tonight for Field or Roosevelt will almost assuredly knock them out of the league title race.
COUNTY DIVISION RACE
Mogadore travels to take on County Division leader Southeast tonight in one of the more interesting games of the season.
The Wildcats come into tonight's play winners of six straight games, including division wins over talented teams like Waterloo and Woodridge.
Southeast poured it on Mogadore in their first encounter, thumping the Wildcats, 82-30, but that was a game that Mogadore junior Ashley Barker was absent from as she recovered from an injury. Since Barker's return, the Wildcats have been surging and she has scored in double-digits in each game.
Much like its Metro Division counterpart, the Pirates have one league loss -- a 59-43 defeat at the hands of Windham, but Southeast has two games up on Waterloo (7-3), while there is a logjam of teams with 5-5 records in Windham, Woodridge, Rootstown and Mogadore.
Basketball is a team game, but some individual credit is due for a pair of County Division seniors for the show they put on last Wednesday in Waterloo's 70-64 overtime victory over Garfield.
Vikings guard Jamie Willis and G-Men guard Jackie Tabor both set career bests in scoring during the game, as Willis poured in 32 points and Tabor followed behind with 28.
Tabor's previous career high was 22 points, according to Garfield head coach Aaron Gilbert.
Willis knocked down four 3-pointers in the victory and Vikings head coach Dave Hamilton said that the light was green all evening for the senior shooter.
While Field can still theoretically contend for a share of the Metro championship, Falcons head coach Craig Nettleton said he knows what his team should really be focusing on.
"The odds aren't really in our favor of winning a Metro Division title," Nettleton said. "We had some things earlier in the year that we needed to take care of that we did not do."
Nettleton said that his team is certainly going to play out its remaining league games against Norton, Streetsboro, Ravenna and Coventry with full effort, but the tournament is where his team is shifting their focus on.
"We need to get better for tournament time if we're going to make a good run," Nettleton said. "Our goal is to never be satisfied, because we know that if we're not getting better every day, then someone else out there is doing that."
A good opportunity to test how far Field, which has won three of its last four league games, has come will be next Wednesday when they travel to take on Ravenna.
The Ravens handled Field the first time around as Ravenna's pressure defense and transition game overwhelmed the Falcons basically from the opening tip.
"Ravenna is a great chance for us to really measure our improvement as a team since the last time we faced them," Nettleton said. "We have to see if we've gotten better handling a team who plays that style. Part of the growth of a good team is being able to handle all the different styles of play that you're going to see from teams."
Sunday at 3 p.m. is the sectional and district playoff draws for the upcoming OHSAA playoffs.
Shortly after that, the sectional tournament games are scheduled to start the week of Feb. 11, while district games are set to kickoff the week of Feb. 25.
Next week's PTC Girls Basketball Report will highlight those postseason matchups.