By Phil Anastasia
The Cape Atlantic League has announced its pairings for its second post-season tournament.
This one will have eight teams, expanded from six last season, and culminate with the title game Feb. 23 at Stockton at 2 p.m.
What if the other leagues in SJ followed the Cape's example? What would their tournaments fields look like?
Here are the Cape matchups:
8 EHT at 1 AC; 7 Sacred Heart at 2 Middle; 6 Hammonton at 3 St. Augustine; 5 Holy Spirit at 4 Wildwood Catholic.
One thing that makes the CAL tourney work is the diversity of the league: There are two Groups 4s, a Group 3, a Group 2, two South A teams and two South B teams in the field.
It's not like the Olympic, which would have a tournament field loaded with Group 4 and South A teams -- many of which already play twice in the regular season. If they met again in the conference tournament and again in the state tournament, that would be four games in one year.
That's a lot.
That's a big argument against an Olympic Conference tournament. There seems to be a lot of sentiment that teams would play too often, and would beat each other up too much before the state tournament.
One thing to keep in mind, though: The CAL unveiled its first tournament last season and it was a huge success.
AC fought its way to the title, playing two close, tough, emotional games -- and the Vikings used the experience as a springboard to win the Group 4 state title.
So there's that.
Just for fun, here's how the other three league tournaments might look if they followed the CAL's example -- eight teams, seeded by strength regardless of division.
8 BE at 1 Lenape; 7 Camden at 2 Shawnee; 6 CHE at 3 CC; 5 PVI at 4 Eastern.
You can argue almost every one of those seeds except maybe Lenape at the 1. The Indians probably earned that with that win over Shawnee on Tuesday. They've swept Eastern and have wins over Camden, BE and CHE.
CC, Eastern and PVI all could make a case for the second seed. Same goes, obviously, for Eastern and PVI when it comes to the third seed.
This would be some tournament. Camden would be a dangerous 7, and PVI could win this thing as a 5.
Some folks could see a downside to Eastern and Lenape possibly meeting in the semis, as it would be their third game -- and they could meet again in SJ 4 play.
Same goes for CC and PVI, which already have played twice and will meet again in South A second round if form holds in first round.
8 Overbrook at 1 Paulsboro; 7 Haddon Hts at 2 Haddonfield; 6 Haddon Twp. at 3 Sterling; 5 West Deptford at 4 Woodbury.
Hard to see anything but a Haddonfield-Paulsboro final game. But HT at Sterling and WD at Woodbury would be interesting first-round games.
Put the Haddonfield-Paulsboro final in a big gym as the nightcap to a doubleheader with, say, Haddon Twp vs. Sterling in the girls' final on the last Saturday of the regular season -- and it could draw 1,000 people.
8 Bordentown at 1 RV; 7 Holy Cross at 2 Willingboro; 6 Pemberton at 3 Burlington City; 5 TCA at 4 Medford Tech.
This tournament could have a great semifinal doubleheader -- City vs. Willingboro and Med Tech vs. RV. That would draw some folks.
RV is playing so well (21-2, 16 in a row), the Red Devils would have to be the favorite. But one of those wins was 45-44 over Willingboro on Feb. 1. A rematch in the title game -- with RV vs. TCA in the girls' final -- would be worth the price of admission.
8 Wildwood at 1 Pitman; 7 Woodstown at 2 Williamstown; 6 Penns Grove at 3 Schalick; 5 Clearview at 4 Triton.
The top two seeds would be pretty clear in this field. You probably could throw a blanket over the other six teams.
That could make for some interesting first-round games. And Pitman vs. Williamstown -- with, say, GC vs. Williamstown in the girls' final -- would be an interesting clash of Group 1 vs. Group 4 and Gloucester County rivals.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter