Cue the celebration. Lakeside High School's boys basketball team is in the playoffs.
That was the scene immediately following the Panthers' 61-56 overtime win against Evans on Friday.
It wasn't until later, when the players had showered and most of the fans filed out, that the celebration was learned to be premature.
Region 3-AAAA secretary Wayne Baker, who is also Evans High School's assistant principal, flipped a coin to determine whether Lakeside or Greenbrier would earn the No. 4 and final seed in the Region 3-AAAA tournament. Panthers coach Ryan Morningstar called tails.
The coin rebelled.
Greenbrier is in the playoffs. Lakeside is not.
"It's sad," Morningstar said. "We play the way we're playing and it feels like you get punished."
Three criteria are considered before a coin flip is used: sub-region record, head-to-head record and record vs. a higher region seed. Lakeside and Greenbrier were identical in all three.
Morningstar thought the Panthers were in the playoffs based on their head-to-head record. But one of Lakeside's wins against Greenbrier was during a Christmas tournament. Baker said tournament games don't count toward head-to-head records.
Baker said the tiebreaker rules have been on the region's books since its inception two years ago. Region coaches from each sport voted on the rules, and they were confirmed by region officials.
The coin flip ended what had been an emotional week for the Panthers. They beat Greenbrier in double overtime Tuesday night and played an extra four minutes before finishing off Evans on the road.
A celebration ensued. Panthers forward Cody Marsh said the team's playoffs started with the win against Greenbrier. Guard C.J. Marshall professed love for his teammates and Morningstar. Lakeside fans filled the court.
But when the shouts died down, the coin flip -- not surviving three overtime periods in a week -- decided the Panthers' fate.
Morningstar, though, admitted his team had its chance to take care of business.
The Panthers began the season 0-4. They finished 12-12.
"We had opportunities early in the season and didn't capitalize, so we'll use that as motivation," Morningstar said. "But right now, we're one of the hottest teams around, and we don't get a chance in the playoffs. I don't think anything should come to (a coin flip)."
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